December 30, 2020
Framework will guide vaccine prioritization in future phases of the province’s implementation plan
TORONTO — The Ontario government has released an Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution which was developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to guide further vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province. The province continues to vaccinate vulnerable populations and those who care for them through Phase One of its three-phase implementation plan as additional vaccines become available.
Details were provided today by COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force members Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s Chief Coroner and Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response, and Dr. Maxwell Smith, bioethicist and assistant professor at Western University.
“This ethical framework is a clear demonstration of our commitment to Ontarians to be transparent,” said General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. “We know that people are eager to get vaccinated and this framework helps ensure that we do it in an ethical, effective and compassionate way.”
Phase One of Ontario’s three-phase vaccine implementation plan began on December 15, 2020 at two hospital sites, and increased to 17 additional sites the following week, with the delivery of 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses. With Health Canada’s recent approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the province can expect about 50,000 additional doses before the end of the month.
“One of the most important aims of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force since its beginning has been to ensure that the most promising vaccines are distributed to Ontarians safely, fairly and as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Huyer. “Our Ethical Framework will support the prioritization of vaccines in a way that enhances confidence and trust in Ontario’s COVID-19 immunization program.”
The Ethical Framework includes the following principles to guide COVID-19 vaccine distribution:
Minimize harms and maximize benefits, to reduce overall illness and death related to COVID-19, protect those at greatest risk of serious illness and death due to biological, social, geographical and occupational factors, protect critical infrastructure, and promote social and economic well-being;
Equity in the distribution of vaccines without bias or discrimination, to reduce disparities in illness and death related to COVID-19, and ensuring benefits for groups experiencing greater burdens from the COVID-19 pandemic;
Fairness, to ensure that every individual within equally prioritized groups has the same opportunity to be vaccinated, and to ensure inclusive, consistent processes that are tailored to unique needs of Ontario’s many and varied communities when making decisions about vaccine prioritization;
Transparency, to ensure the principles and rationale, decision-making processes and plans for COVID-19 prioritization are clear, understandable and communicated to the public;
Legitimacy, making decisions based on the best available scientific evidence, shared values and input from affected parties including those historically underrepresented, to ensure decisions have the intended impact, and to include participation of affected parties in the creation and review of decisions and decision-making processes; and
Public trust, to ensure decisions and decision-making processes are informed by these principles to advance confidence and trust in Ontario’s COVID-19 immunization program.
“The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force developed this framework to ensure that its feedback and recommendations are consistently guided by fundamentally important ethical values like equity, fairness and transparency,” said Dr. Smith. “We are continuing to ensure that diverse perspectives are captured in our feedback and recommendations, so that all Ontarians who want to get vaccinated against this deadly virus are accounted for. Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases and are our best defense to help us get back to our normal lives.”
While the Health Canada approval and rollout of two vaccines represent progress in the fight against COVID-19, Ontarians are reminded that staying home and following public health guidelines is currently the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. This includes limiting trips outside the home except for essential purposes, practicing physical distancing of at least two meters when going out, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or when it is mandatory to do so, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Ontario has launched a new webpage detailing the province’s three-phase immunization program, information on COVID-19 vaccines, safety measures and approval standards, as well as daily updates on the number of Ontarians vaccinated.
The province’s decision to identify key populations to receive the vaccine first is based on the advice of medical experts and ethicists, and recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and aligned with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommendations.
On December 9, 2020, Health Canada approved the first COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, and on December 23, 2020 approved the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Moderna. Health Canada approved the vaccines after independent and thorough scientific reviews for safety, effectiveness and quality. Health Canada will continue to monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. To date, more than 19,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Ontario.
The province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021, when more vaccines become available to Ontario. During Phase Two vaccinations will continue for health care workers, long-term care homes, retirement homes, home care patients with chronic conditions, and additional First Nation communities and Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit individuals. The task force will use the Ethical Framework and the best available data to identify further priority populations within this phase, based on available vaccine supply.
Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines are more widely available for everyone who wishes to be immunized. Prioritization within this group will be grounded in the ethical framework, be data driven and informed by available vaccine supply. While vaccines will not be mandated, people will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated during this phase.
To help everyone stay safe, download the COVID Alert app. It is free to use and is available from the Apple and Google Play app stores. This app lets users know if they may have been exposed to the others who are infected with the virus.
Government Providing Grants of up to $20,000 to Small Businesses Impacted by New Public Health Measures
TORONTO — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is imposing a Provincewide Shutdown. Additional restrictions will be put into place and reinforce that Ontarians should stay at home as much as possible to minimize transmission of the virus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. The Provincewide Shutdown will go into effect as of Saturday, December 26, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Naveed Mohammad, President and CEO, William Osler Health System.
“The number of daily cases continue to rise putting our hospitals and long-term care homes at risk,” said Premier Ford. “We need to stop the spread of this deadly virus. That’s why, on the advice of Dr. Williams and other health experts, we are taking the difficult but necessary decision to shutdown the province and ask people to stay home. Nothing is more important right now than the health and safety of all Ontarians.”
In response to these exceptional circumstances, the Provincewide Shutdown would put in place time-limited public health and workplace safety measures similar to those in other jurisdictions. It would help stop the trend of high COVID-19 transmission in communities, preserve health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations and those who care for them, and save lives. Measures include, but are not limited to:
Restricting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.
Prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings – curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping.
Restricting indoor access to shopping malls – patrons may only go to a designated indoor pickup area (by appointment only), essential retail stores that are permitted to be open (e.g. pharmacy, grocery store), or, subject to physical distancing and face covering requirements, to the food court for takeout purchases. Shopping malls may also establish outdoor designated pickup areas.
Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only.
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, all Ontarians are advised to stay home as much as possible with trips outside the home limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
The current COVID-19 Response Framework will be paused when the Provincewide Shutdown comes into effect. The impacts of these time-limited measures will be evaluated throughout the 14 days in Northern Ontario and 28 days in Southern Ontario to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if they need to be extended.The Chief Medical Officer of Health will assess and apply lessons learned thus far to the COVID-19 Response Framework to ensure appropriate and effective measures are in place to protect the health of Ontarians and enable economic recovery after the Provincewide Shutdown ends. This will include an assessment of how a revised approach for the safe reopening of retail may be operationalized, according to the latest available evidence.
“This was not an easy decision before the holidays, but we have reached a tipping point,” said Minister Elliott. “We continue to see sharp increases in hospitalizations and occupancy in intensive care units is reaching concerning levels. Urgent action must be taken to prevent our health care system from becoming overwhelmed. By implementing a Provincewide Shutdown, we can work to stop the virus in its tracks, safeguard hospital capacity, and save lives.”
The government is also providing $12.5 million to implement a High Priority Communities Strategy to contain the virus in high-risk communities. The strategy will take a tailored, community-based approach to fund community agencies in 15 priority communities in the York, Peel, Durham, Ottawa, and Toronto regions. The funding will also allow for the hiring of community ambassadors to make people aware of available services and assistance, for coordination of increased testing opportunities and for the arrangement of wraparound supports for those who are COVID-positive. Additional funding of $42 million will also be available to establish isolation centres.
The province will work with our local municipal partners to establish new isolation centres to help those who may need to isolate following testing.
“We continue to see the number of cases in the province grow and the trends in public health indicators worsen. Additional measures are needed provincewide in order to interrupt this concerning growth,” said Dr. Williams. “We must work together to enable everyone to follow these new and time-limited restrictions and protect our health system and our communities.”
The government is working to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in workplaces by supporting essential businesses in doing whatever is necessary to keep workers safe. The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is leading a multi-ministry COVID-19 Safety Team. The team will partner with local authorities to carry out additional enforcement blitzes in sectors where they are needed most.
New School Protocols
While transmission in schools remains low, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools are to move to teacher-led remote learning when students return from the winter break on January 4, 2021. This action is being taken in support of the Government’s broader efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Schools located in the following Public Health Unit regions can resume in-person instruction on January 11, 2021 for both elementary and secondary students:
The District of Algoma Health Unit
North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
Northwestern Health Unit
Porcupine Health Unit
Sudbury and District Health Unit
Thunder Bay District Health Unit
Timiskaming Health Unit
For schools in all other Public Health Unit regions, elementary school students are planned to be able to return to in-person learning on January 11, 2021, and secondary school students will continue learning remotely until January 25, 2021, at which point they may resume in-person learning. During this period, child care centres, authorized recreational and skill building programs and home-based child care services will remain open. From January 4-8, 2021, when elementary students move to remote learning, before and after school programs will be closed and emergency child care for health care and frontline workers will be provided. As part of the government’s efforts to protect the most vulnerable, boards will be required to make provisions for continued in-person support for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning for whom remote learning is challenging.
“While our schools are not a source of rising community transmission, we can play an important part of the solution to save lives from COVID-19,” said Minister Lecce. “During this period, students will pivot to teacher-led online learning, with child care provided for our frontline workers. We are taking proactive and preventative action to protect schools following the holiday break to ensure kids can continue in-class learning — something we believe is so important — for the remainder of the year.”
The New Ontario Small Business Support Grant
The government recognizes that small businesses impacted by these necessary public health measures will require additional support so they can continue serving their communities and employing people in Ontario once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. That is why the government is announcing the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help navigate this challenging period.
“Ontario’s business owners have shown remarkable resolve and ingenuity throughout the pandemic. They know better than anyone what they need to come through this very difficult time, so they can continue to serve and employ people in their communities,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “The new Ontario Small Business Support Grant will provide significant financial support to eligible small business owners in addition to the other supports made available to our small business community.”
Small businesses required to close or restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for this one-time grant. Each small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business. For example, some businesses will need support paying employee wages or rent, while others will need support maintaining their inventory.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
Are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the Provincewide Shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020;
Have less than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
Starting at $10,000 for all eligible businesses, the grant will provide businesses with dollar for dollar funding to a maximum of $20,000 to help cover decreased revenue expected as a result of the Provincewide Shutdown. The business must demonstrate they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent when comparing monthly revenue in April 2019 and April 2020. This time period was selected because it reflects the impact of the public health measures in spring 2020, and as such provides a representation of the possible impact of these latest measures on small businesses.
Essential businesses that are allowed to remain open will not be eligible for this grant. More information about the Ontario Small Business Support Grant is available here. Further details, including how to apply, will be announced in January 2021.
Businesses that are impacted by the Provincewide Shutdown will also be eligible for the property tax and energy cost rebates. In November, the government launched a program to provide rebates to offset fixed costs such as property tax and energy bills for businesses that are required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures. These Ontario Small Business Support Grant rebates will continue to be available for businesses impacted by the Provincewide Shutdown and earlier restrictions. Business can apply for the rebates here.
Currently, hospitalizations for COVID-19 have increased by 74 per cent over the last four weeks and are more than 15 times higher than they were at the beginning of September. Intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy for COVID-19 has more than doubled over the last four weeks and is 20 times higher than at the beginning of September.
Ontario currently has 915 COVID-19 patients requiring acute care, 265 patients in ICU, with 152 on a ventilator.
Based on the latest modelling data, cases across the province are continuing to grow and the number of people requiring an intensive care bed is projected to rise well above 300 people within the next 10 days.
Some jurisdictions around the world, including those in Canada have implemented similar time-limited measures to respond to a dramatic resurgence in cases. Based on their experiences, measures of four to six weeks are expected to interrupt transmission of COVID-19 in Ontario.
Municipalities and local medical officers of health may have additional restrictions or targeted requirements in their region.
If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert App. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.
The Ontario Small Business Support Grant is part of the Province’s more than $13.5 billion in support for people and jobs outlined in the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. It is also in addition to $4.8 billion to address critical areas to support a strong long-term recovery that helps workers, employers and communities get back on their feet, while building the foundation for recovery and growth.
To find the right supports, visit COVID-19: Support for People, which has information about the many available and free mental health services and supports.
To stay safe you can download the COVID Alert App free from the Apple and Google Play app stores.
To date, as part of the province’s COVID-19 immunization program, over 3,000 frontline health care workers have been vaccinated.
Schools continue to be safe, and according to data reported by school boards, as of Friday, December 18: approximately 99.64 per cent of students in Ontario have not reported a case of COVID-19; approximately 92 per cent of schools across the province have had either no cases or one case reported within the last 14 days; and approximately 80 per cent of schools do not have an case of COVID-19.
Ontario Supporting High Priority Communities
Ontario Building On Supports for Employers During COVID-19
The Digital Main Street program helps main street businesses build their online presence and reach more customers.
Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebates
Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.
Minister Elliott’s Office
Ontario Increasing Mental Health and Addictions Services
December 17, 2020
Additional funding will make it easier for people to access supports now
TORONTO — The Ontario government is providing over $147 million to immediately expand access to the provincial mental health and addictions system for people of all ages and address capacity issues in response to COVID-19. This funding builds upon the $176 million provided earlier this year as part of Roadmap to Wellness, the government’s comprehensive plan to deliver high-quality care and build a modern, connected and comprehensive mental health and addictions system.
Details were provided today by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
“With Ontario in a second wave of COVID-19, and with the holiday season just around the corner, it is critical that we act now to make it easier for people to find and access mental health and addictions services,” said Minister Elliott. “We are supporting our most vulnerable populations, while expanding community-based and virtual and online services to close gaps in care and ensure the right mental health and addictions supports are widely available.”
The impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, including prolonged physical distancing, widespread financial uncertainty, and being constantly inundated with new information about the virus, have made life increasingly difficult for many people and families across Ontario, especially among those living with mental health and addictions challenges. With the arrival of the holiday season, this investment will address the increasing demand for services during these difficult times.
Through this investment, the government will add more staff, accommodations, virtual supports, housing and short-term accommodation, and other supports to continue providing safe in-person services where appropriate, including supports specifically for Ontario’s frontline workers. This includes:
Over $62.2 million in community-based mental health and addictions services and inter-professional primary care teams, including $30 million in targeted funding for child and youth mental health services. Services include local in-person and virtual community mental health and addictions services, housing and accommodation supports, capacity-building for front-line workers, peer supports and resources, and enhanced services through interprofessional primary care including Family Health Teams, Indigenous governed supports and Community Health Centres;
$8 million in targeted, culturally safe services for Indigenous peoples, including land-based programming, and culturally safe and age-appropriate mental health and addictions supports, including wellness supports for children and youth;
Over $10 million to help specific vulnerable populations, such as those in residential settings that may be at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, those at risk of homelessness, soci al isolation and justice-involved individuals. Services include mobile crisis supports, rent supplements and supports for racialized individuals; and
Over $15.4 million to expand virtual mental health and addictions supports, making it easier for Ontarians across the province to access these resources, including internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, virtual addictions supports and virtual supports for health care workers. This investment will provide additional virtual services for children and youth through the Kids Help Phone and Child and Youth Tele-Mental health services. Health care workers will also be supported to continue accessing virtual mental health services.
In addition, over $51.5 million will go towards a cross-sectoral approach to support vulnerable populations, including but not limited to postsecondary students, First Nations communities, Metis, Inuit and urban Indigenous peoples, Black youth, children and youth in care, LGBTQ youth, people with developmental disabilities, and victims of gender-based violence.
In response to challenges caused by COVID-19, funding will be targeted towards supporting municipal and First Nations police services, as well as the Ontario Provincial Police in accessing innovative and effective virtual training to assist them in handling mental health cases.
“With the New Year quickly approaching, our government recognizes that more needs to be done to ensure that individuals and families are fully supported during these difficult times,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Today’s investment builds on our commitment to increase mental health and addictions support during the COVID-19 outbreak so people of all ages can continue accessing the high-quality care they expect and deserve.”
As part of Ontario’s Fall Preparedness Plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, the funding announced today builds on the $46.75 million in emergency funding for mental health and addiction services provided in the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Ontario government has invested a total of up to $194 million in its COVID-19 mental health and addictions response.
The emergency funding for mental health and addictions has already helped more than 50,000 Ontarians continue to access services they need during this challenging time, including new supports such as virtual tools and counselling.
To enable Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario is investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to create new services and expand programs.
The government is investing $176 million this year in mental health and addictions services. This investment builds on the $174 million the government invested last year for mental health and addictions programs, bringing new base investments across the sector since 2019-20 to a total of more than $350 million.
To find the right supports for you, visit COVID-19: Support for People to find information about the many available, confidential and free mental health services and supports.
***PLEASE USE THE LINK AT THE TO FOR ORIGINAL SOURCE WHICH INCLUDES LIVE LINKS**
Please click the link below for further information regarding expanded funding
Please click on the link below and look for homes video
Federal Economic Statement – Funding Supports for Businesses & Individuals
Below is a listing of the key supports the Federal government will be providing to assist Canadians through the pandemic, as outlined in their economic statement released this afternoon.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Recognizing that we will face a difficult winter with the second wave, and that public health restrictions pose ongoing challenges to employers, the government wants to make sure businesses and workers have the support they need in the coming months.
The government will continue to monitor health and economic conditions to determine details for subsequent periods.
Enhancements to Employment Insurance
To ensure Canadians have the support they need, the government announced temporary changes for one year that have made the Employment Insurance (EI) program more simple, flexible and generous. This will not only provide people with the income support to afford the basics, it will also get people ready to re-enter the labour market by giving them access to EI-funded training and employment support.
EI benefits will now be available to more vulnerable Canadians, including many women who would not have had enough insurable hours of work to qualify in the past, supporting an additional 400,000 people through the program.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit provided emergency income support to millions of Canadians. Since the end of the program, 2 million claimants have applied to the simplified Employment Insurance system but many Canadians were still not eligible for EI. The government launched three new income support benefits for these workers—those who continued to be unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19, such as providing care to a relative. The Canada Recovery Benefits are available to self-employed Canadians and gig workers, as well as workers who have not lost their job but have seen significant income loss due to COVID-19. To date, 1.5 million Canadians have applied to receive one of these benefits. The benefits are available until September 25, 2021.
Business owners have worked hard to adapt to the pandemic—finding ways to offer services online, providing delivery options, reducing store hours, updating factories to make them safer for workers, or investing in PPE. Even so, for many, revenues are still down, while costs like rent and mortgages stay the same. The recently launched Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy provides direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support from September 27, 2020 until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19.
This program lets business owners apply directly, without going through landlords. The rent subsidy is provided to eligible tenants and property owners, supporting businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing eligible expenses. The current rate provides a subsidy, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent until December 19, 2020.
Since launching on November 23, applicants have been able to use the rent subsidy towards rent payable. The government will soon introduce legislation to formalize this as an eligible expense.
Under the new Lockdown Support program, organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly restrict their activities under a public health order are eligible for an additional 25 per cent top-up, in addition to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy base subsidy of up to 65 per cent, until December 19, 2020. This means hard-hit businesses can receive up to 90 per cent support for rent.
To date, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) has provided over 790,000 small businesses and non-profits with interest-free loans, partially forgivable if paid back by December 31, 2022.
Initially providing loans of up to $40,000, with up to $10,000 forgivable, the CEBA program will soon be expanded, allowing qualifying businesses to access an additional interest-free $20,000 loan, in situations where there is need. Half of this additional amount, up to $10,000, would be forgivable if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022.
The government recently extended the availability of the CEBA program to small businesses that have not been operating from a commercial banking account. These small businesses are now able to apply for the CEBA, provided that they have successfully opened a new commercial account and fully meet the eligibility requirements of the program. Loans are provided through financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, in cooperation with Export Development Canada.
The deadline to apply for a CEBA loan has been extended to March 31, 2021.
These enhancements demonstrate the government’s commitment to stand by small businesses to ensure they can continue to support families and communities across the country.
As outlined in the Speech from the Throne, some businesses, particularly those in highly-affected sectors like tourism and hospitality, have struggled to access sufficient financing. To help address this challenge and bridge these businesses through the crisis, the government proposes to work with financial institutions in the near term to offer loans on more generous terms to the hardest hit businesses, to help ensure they remain viable and in place to drive future economic growth:
The government will provide details on the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program soon.
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
Businesses, workers and communities in every corner of Canada have been impacted by COVID-19. To help support those businesses unable to access other federal pandemic support programs, the government announced the $962-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund on April 17, providing significant funding through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies. The government increased funding on October 2, bringing total support to more than $1.5 billion.
To date, this program has protected over 102,000 jobs and supported over 14,700 businesses, including over 8,500 clients in rural areas and 5,100 women-owned businesses.
Communities across Canada have been hit hard by the decline in tourism. Approximately 750,000 workers and 2 per cent of Canada’s GDP are attributed to tourism. Small and medium sized firms dominate the tourism sector and it employs a higher proportion of youth, women and Indigenous people compared to their share of the workforce. Domestic and international tourism is also a key economic generator and an important source of jobs in many rural and northern regions of the country.
Pandemic restrictions have taken a toll on Canada’s tourism industry—on jobs, businesses and communities—and it is expected that the uncertainty will persist into 2021. The recently launched Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support, enhanced Canada Emergency Business Account, and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy at the proposed new maximum subsidy rate of 75 per cent, along with the new Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program, will continue to provide a robust backstop for the sector in the months ahead. These programs have been designed with diverse, hard hit sectors like tourism and hospitality in mind. To date, approximately $9.7 billion is estimated to have flowed to businesses in these sectors through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Business Account and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance.
The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund has provided $202 million in support to 2,830 tourism-related businesses.
The government will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to identify the best ways to support the longer term rebound and recovery of this important sector.
Cultural and recreation industries, which employ hundreds of thousands of Canadians, have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, being among the first to shut down and likely among the last to return to regular activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the near complete suspension of live events and arts presentations, affecting thousands of self-employed and freelance artists and event workers across the country. The pandemic has also has resulted in the drastic reduction of advertising revenues for Canadian broadcasting companies, including local television and radio stations on whom many Canadians rely for their news and entertainment.
The government understands that certain major live events and festivals will require unique support. The government will work with industry to prevent the closure of unique and irreplaceable flagship events and festivals across Canada, and to ensure the survival of key, globally-recognized assets in this sector.
To address the impact of COVID-19 on film and television productions across the country, the government announced a $50 million Short-Term Compensation Fund in September 2020. This initiative is compensating for the lack of insurance coverage for COVID-19–related filming interruptions and production shutdowns, allowing the industry to continue with its operations.
Canada is a vast country, and we rely more on air travel than others. Carriers have cut routes during the pandemic, leaving Canadians in certain communities with limited mobility and limited access to essential goods and services. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government has announced $192 million to support essential air services to remote and northern communities. The funding is helping to ensure these communities have continued access to food, medical supplies, and other essential goods and services.
Canada’s air travel system directly employs over 100,000 Canadians. However, COVID-19 and related health restrictions have caused Canada’s air sector to suffer a near collapse in passenger travel. This is threatening the viability of our airlines and airports, and most importantly, the people who work there and the communities that rely on them. Since the beginning of the pandemic, air sector workers have received over $1.4 billion in support through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
The government is committed to ensuring that Canada’s air sector continues to connect Canadians and Canadian marketplaces, as part of a dynamic aerospace industry. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, we have heard from many Canadians who had booked travel and ended up stuck with vouchers for trips they could not take instead of getting refunds. The government is establishing a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance. As part of this process, the government will ensure Canadians are refunded for cancelled flights.
o Waiving rent payments for small airports (i.e., those with passenger volumes of less than one million passengers in 2019) for 2021, 2022 and 2023;
o Waiving rent payments for medium airports (i.e., those with passenger volumes between one million and ten million in 2019) for 2021; and,
o Deferring rent payments for the largest airports for 2021, with repayment to occur over ten years, starting in 2024.
In May 2020, the government launched the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to make bridge credit financing available to large Canadian businesses whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing. The objective of this support is to help protect Canadian jobs, help Canadian businesses weather the current economic challenges, and avoid bankruptcies of otherwise viable firms where possible.
The government is exploring options to enhance the LEEFF program, to respond to the specific liquidity needs of a greater number of large Canadian businesses.
|Leanna Karremans, MPPAL|
|Director – Research, Policy and Communications|