Province announces further COVID-19 measures as Ontario Declares Second Provincial Emergency to Address COVID-19 Crisis
For questions directly from the Province, you can call the Stop the Spread Information line at:
In response to a doubling in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, the real and looming threat of the collapse of the province's hospital system and alarming risks posed to long-term care homes as a result of high COVID-19 transmission rates, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).

The government will enact the following additional public health measures:
  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face-covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can't physically distance more than two metres. 
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.

These measures will come into effect immediately as of 2 p.m. January 12, 2021.

Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.

This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people's mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.

New Enforcement Measures

Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce. Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, (ROA) and EMCPA.  
Ontario Small Business Support Grant
In response to the Provincewide Shutdown, the Government of Ontario announced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help small business owners. 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, including wages or rent.

Eligible small businesses include those that:
  • Are required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26.
  • Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level.
  • Have experienced a minimum of 20 percent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
  • For small businesses not in operation in April 2019 or April 2020, eligibility criteria will be announced in January 2021.
Businesses that are not eligible include those that were already required to close prior to the introduction of modified Stage 2 measures, and essential businesses permitted to operate with capacity restrictions (e.g., discount and big box stores selling groceries, supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, and beer, wine and liquor stores).

Further details, including how to apply for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, will be announced in January 2021.

Read more about the Ontario Small Business Support Grant:
January 31 Deadline Approaching for CEWS Claim periods 1 to 5
We want to ensure you are aware of the upcoming application deadline for the CEWS claim periods 1 to 5 on January 31, 2021. 
This includes consecutive claim qualifying periods as follows:
Period 1:
  • March 15 – April 11, 2020
Period 2:
  • April 12 – May 9, 2020
Period 3:
  • May 10 – June 6, 2020
Period 4:
  • June 7 – July 4, 2020
Period 5:
  • July 5 – August 1, 2020
After January 31, 2021, businesses will no longer be able to apply for the CEWS for the above-noted claim periods. With the deadline fast approaching, you will want to make sure you have submitted your claim for those periods in which you qualify.
Small Business Assistance and Resources
Despite media coverage and government advertising, the Government of Ontario is still hearing of small businesses being unaware of the supports available from both the provincial and federal governments and processes.

The Government of Ontario reminds businesses that all programs and details can be accessed through the One-Window Portal to Small Business Supports at
  • Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Grant - This grant provides a one-time reimbursement of up to $1,000 for PPE costs for eligible small businesses with two to nine employees, in the retail, food and accommodation sectors, and other service sectors like repair and maintenance, personal and laundry services, to help them cover PPE costs.
  • Ontario’s Energy & Property Tax Rebates – Businesses that were required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures (in areas with modified Stage 2 restrictions or categorized as control/red or lockdown/grey) can apply for rebates, provided in the form of grants, to cover municipal/education property taxes and energy costs (electricity/natural gas/propane/home heating oil).
  • Ontario’s COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program - a one time, on-bill credit to eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments. Small business and registered charity customers may be eligible for up to $850 in support towards their electricity bill if they primarily use electricity for heating or up to $425 otherwise. Small business and registered charity customers could also be eligible for up to $425 in support towards their natural gas bill.
  • Ontario’s Digital Main Street Grant – provides Digital Transformation training and guidance and provides the opportunity for main street businesses to apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to help their business launch and expand online, supporting small business e-commerce growth.
  • Ontario’s Starter Company Plus Program – provides funding up to $5,000, one-on-one advice from a Small Business Advisor and 6 biweekly coaching sessions for businesses in their first 5 years in business. The program is accessed through the province’s 47 Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network locations.
Home Office Expenses for Employees
With 2.4 million Canadians working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada Revenue Agency has made the home office expenses deduction available to more Canadians and has simplified the way employees can claim these expenses on their personal income tax return for the 2020 tax year. Employees with larger claims for home office expenses can still choose to use the existing detailed method to calculate their home office expenses deduction.

Employees who worked from home more than 50% of the time over a period of a least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19 will now be eligible to claim the home office expenses deduction for 2020. A new temporary flat rate method will allow eligible employees to claim a deduction of $2 for each day they worked at home in that period, plus any other days they worked from home in 2020 due to COVID-19 up to a maximum of $400. Under this new method, employees will not have to get Form T2200 or Form T2200S completed and signed by their employer.

Timmins Emergency Response Fund
The Timmins Emergency Response Fund for Businesses has been created with a $100,000 contribution by founding funder Newmont Porcupine. Administered by partner The Venture Centre, also matched the funds to create a fund of $200,000. The micro-loan program is intended to provide timely assistance to businesses that are either ineligible for the Provincially- or Federally-established programs or require bridge financing until funds from those programs flow.
Ontario Chamber Network Calls for Faster Deployment of COVID-19 Vaccine in Canada
“The faster the Ontario population is inoculated, the faster we can work together on the province’s path to economic recovery. Today, we call on all levels of government to do all that they can to get vaccines in the hands of Canadians as quickly as possible.

“With the province-wide lockdown still in effect, we continue to remain deeply concerned about the pandemic’s impact on small businesses and their employees. We are asking for a clear timeline for vaccine deployment and distribution in every corner of the country. Today’s accelerated timeline for long-term care homes provided by the Ontario government is a welcome step. Vaccine deployment and distribution are critical to businesses reopening safely, restoring consumer confidence, ensuring a robust economic recovery, and saving lives.”
Guide to current financial support from the Canadian Business Resiliency Network

2021 Ontario Summer Experience Program
The Summer Experience Program provides funding to eligible not-for-profit organizations, municipalities, Indigenous organizations and First Nation communities in order to create meaningful summer employment opportunities for students. The summer employment positions must focus on activities supporting key sectors within the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries and the Citizenship and Immigration Division of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. The objectives of SEP are:

  1. To provide quality, supervised work experience for students in summer positions that develop skills that are career-related and transferable to the general labour market.
  2. To make positions available in communities throughout the province, particularly in areas of high unemployment (i.e. Northern Ontario).
  3. To enable greater access to summer employment for students through an accessible and transparent recruitment process.
  4. To provide transfer payments to eligible organizations within the key sectors noted above to support their capacity to deliver summer service and specific projects that align with the Ministry priorities outlined below.
Canada Summer Jobs Program
Canada Summer Jobs is an initiative of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, which aims to provide flexible and holistic services to help all young Canadians develop the skills and gain paid work experience to successfully transition into the labour market.
The Canada Summer Jobs program objectives align with the redesigned Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and are as follows:
  • provide quality work experiences for youth
  • respond to national and local priorities to improve access to the labour market for youth who face unique barriers
  • provide opportunities for youth to develop and improve their skills
The program provides wage subsidies to employers from not-for-profit organizations, the public sector, and private sector organizations with 50 or fewer full-time employees, to create quality summer work experiences for young people aged 15 to 30 years. Funded employers are not restricted to hiring students — all youth aged 15 to 30 years may be eligible participants.
Hiring challenges are common across Canada, regardless of the type or size of business you operate. That’s why the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is inviting you to participate in a survey about challenges with attracting and retaining talent. The results of this survey will be used to create programs and supports that will help organizations like yours solve hiring headaches.

Completed surveys will be entered into a draw to win one of five $200 gift cards to Best Buy.
Rural Economic Development (RED) program guidelines
Ontario’s Rural Economic Development (RED) program provides cost-share funding to support activities that create strong rural communities in Ontario and opens doors to rural economic development.
The RED program is application-based and projects are selected using a competitive process. Please read these program guidelines before completing an application form.
Projects need to meet the following criteria:
  • benefit rural Ontario
  • have tangible outcomes
  • reach beyond one community
All applications are assessed based on these guidelines. These guidelines are subject to change from time to time without notice.
You are eligible to apply if you are a:
  • a municipality
  • a not-for-profit organization
  • an Ontario Indigenous community or organization
  • a Local Services Board
If you are eligible, you must also comply with all legal requirements.
You are not eligible to apply if you are:
  • a business
  • an individual
  • a research institution or organization whose core business or primary activity is research and development (for example, universities)
  • a not-for-profit organization that is not incorporated
For the RED program, applicants include the lead applicant and any co-applicants, but do not include partners.
Mainstreet Relief Grant for PPE
Get help with COVID-19 PPE support


To be eligible, your business must have two to nine employees and be in one of the following sectors:
  • retail;
  • accommodation and food services;
  • repair and maintenance;
  • personal and laundry services; and
  • gyms and yoga studios

Canada’s Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) is an innovative program designed to help small- and medium-sized enterprises gain knowledge and a network of contacts to unleash their export potential. Through a series of in-depth workshop sessions with trade and industry experts, Canadian business leaders learn to overcome export barriers and reach new markets faster. TAP Canada is quickly gaining momentum across Canada and has garnered a reputation of helping businesses achieve real results, fast.
The Chamber is pleased to host the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) for the first time starting in the Winter of 2021. 

This cohort runs over the course of 7 weeks, beginning February 23, 2021:
The Student Workplace Placement Program provides employers with wage subsidies of up to $7,500 to hire post-secondary students for paid work experiences.

  1. Visit our Magnet page and create your free account.
  2. Log in to Magnet to begin posting jobs.
  3. Use Magnet’s matching criteria to target your posting to the most qualified candidates among the network’s job seekers.

Ontario's Mines of the Future
Join MineConnect and the Timmins of Commerce for a unique presentation regarding the current and future status of Northern Ontario's advanced mineral projects.
The webinar series will be held via Zoom.

The January 20th presentation will discuss emerging opportunities in Northeastern Ontario. and will be led by Zeinab Azadbakht, Resident Geologist, Timmins-Sault Ste. Marie.

These webinars are being hosted by MineConnect as a means of providing its members with the latest information regarding business development opportunities in Ontario's North and beyond.

January 20th and 27th from 4 p.m to 4:45 p.m.
In Conversation with the Hon. Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Official Opposition
Join the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on  February 5 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm for a discussion with the Leader of the Official Opposition, the Honourable Erin O’Toole, about how business and government can work together on building a stronger Canada.

2020 was an unprecedented year and as we embark on a new year, we are proud to host a one-on-one conversation with Mr. O’Toole.
Mr. O’Toole will speak about his response to rising COVID-19 numbers over the holidays while protecting Canadians lives and jobs, as well as his vision for economic recovery with the vaccine rollout underway across the country.
This virtual event will be a one-on-one conversation with our President and CEO Rocco Rossi. Please send your questions in advance so we can work them into the conversation!

Cameron Grant
Policy and Engagement Lead
The Chamber.