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Huntsville & Lake of Bays COVID-19 Pandemic Information

We understand that this is an extremely difficult time for you and your business. The tourism industry here in Muskoka and across the world is going to be heavily affected, and we feel devastated over the impact this situation will have upon our local members. At this time, keeping yourself, your employees and your family safe must be your priority, but we recognize that there are very real financial issues and decisions that you are facing as well. The Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce is working diligently to create strategies to assist you and your business in weathering this situation and to find alternative methods to stimulate tourism as much as possible in both the short and long term. We are actively following the latest news on the COVID-19 situation and we will update you as important new information comes to light.

Information & Updates

March 27

This morning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced further measures to support small and medium-size businesses. He said “SME’s are the backbone of our country.” The new measures were described as follows:
  1. The existing 10% wage subsidy for employers will be increased to 75% of wages for qualifying businesses. These subsidies can be back-dated to March 15.
  2. The creation of the Canada Emergency Business Account. Eligible businesses will be able to receive government guaranteed loans up to $40,000 which will be interest free for the first year. As well, if businesses meet certain conditions, up to $10,000 of the loan can be forgivable.
  3. The deferral of HST, GST and import tax payments until June.

The Town of Huntsville has waived the penalty on tax payments for the 2 month period of March 31 to May 31, 2020. The deferral allows Town of Huntsville residents the ability to defer interim tax payments prior to May 31 deadline without incurring penalty. In the official news release, the Town is asking those with the ability to pay taxes on the original March 31st deadline to do so.

March 26

More details have come out about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Financial assistance will be available to those who do not qualify for regular Employment Insurance benefits and who are unable to work or have had their pay reduced dramatically due to COVID-19. The benefit will provide up to $2000 per month over a 4 month period. The application process is expected to open in early April via online portal and this morning Justin Trudeau said that Canadians should start receiving benefits within 14 days of applying. More details can be found on the Department of Finance website.

March 25

Today Justin Trudeau announced the Government is creating the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit will provide up to $2000 per month over a 4 month period to people who are unable to work or have had their pay reduced dramatically due to COVID-19. Trudeau said an online portal will open very soon for applications and that Canadians should start receiving benefits within 10 days of applying. For the most up-to-date info on this new benefit, head to the CBC News Report.

The Federal Government website now has a page devoted to the temporary wage subsidy for employers. With a frequently asked questions format, the page is designed to help employers figure out if they are eligible for the subsidy and how to calculate and apply.

Also today the Government of Ontario has announced electricity bill relief measures for families, small businesses and farms. For a 45 day period, the time of use electricity rates will be suspended and a flat rate of 10.1 cents/kilowatt hour will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More details can be found in their media release.

Also today, a new toll-free information line at 1-888-444-3659 has been set up to allow businesses to ask questions regarding yesterday’s official list of essential workplaces that are permitted to be open during this new stage in the COVID-19 crisis.
Ontario has launched a new business website named Ontario Together. The website is designed to remove barriers allowing Ontario’s manufacturing sector to re-deploy capacity towards the production of essential equipment like ventilators, masks and swabs. The interactive site also allows for dialogue between business and government in the area of supply-chain innovation.

March 24

The Government of Ontario has posted their official list of essential workplaces that are permitted to be open during this new stage in the COVID-19 crisis. Businesses that do not fall under the following lost are ordered to shut down by midnight tonight. We have posted the complete list below. We will provide you with further information this afternoon in our daily email, and you can visit the Ontario Government’s Newsroom Website for further details.
List of Essential Workplaces

The Ontario government says: “For the purposes of this order, businesses include any-for-profit, non-profit or other entity providing the goods and services described herein. This does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery. Note that teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.”

Supply chains

1. Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate.

Retail and Wholesaling

2. Businesses engaged in the retail and wholesale sale of food, pet food and supplies, and household consumer products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and businesses, including grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, markets and other similar retailers.
3. Businesses that provide essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including feed, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding.
4. Beer, wine and liquor stores and alcohol producers, and stores that sell beer and wine through arrangements with authorized providers; cannabis stores and cannabis producers.
5. Gas stations, diesel, propane and heating fuel providers including providers of motor vehicle, aircraft and water/marine craft fuels.
6. Motor vehicle, auto-supply, auto and motor-vehicle-repair, including bicycle repair, aircraft repair, heavy equipment repair, watercraft/marine craft repairs, car and truck dealerships and related facilities.
7. Hardware stores and stores that provide hardware products necessary to the essential operations of residences and businesses.
8. Business providing pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical services, including pharmacies and dispensaries.
9. Businesses that supply office products and services, including providing computer products and related repair and maintenance services, for individuals working from home and for essential businesses.
10. Safety supply stores (for e.g. work clothes, personal protective equipment).

Food Services and Accommodations

11. Restaurants and other food facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or takeaway, together with food delivery services;
12. Hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities, including student residences;

Institutional, Residential, Commercial and Industrial Maintenance

13. Businesses that provide support and maintenance services, including urgent repair, to maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial industrial and residential properties and buildings, including, property management services,plumbers, electricians, custodial/janitorial workers, cleaning services, , security services, fire safety and sprinkler systems, building systems maintenance and repair technicians and engineers, mechanics, (e.g. HVAC, escalator and elevator technicians), and other service providers who provide similar services

Telecommunications and IT Infrastructure/Service Providers

14. Businesses engaged in providing or supporting Information Technology (IT) including online services, software products and related services, as well as the technical facilities such as data centres and other network facilities necessary for their operation and delivery;
15. Businesses providing telecommunications services (phone, internet, radio, cell phones etc) as well as support facilities such as call centres necessary for their operation and delivery;


16. Taxis and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for activities of daily living;
17. Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services to businesses and individuals including by air, water, road, and rail including providing logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, including truck stops and tow operators;
18. Businesses that provide materials and services for the operation, maintenance and safety of transportation systems (road, transit, rail, air and marine) including delivery of maintenance services such as clearing snow, response to collisions, and completing needed repairs to the transportation systems.

Manufacturing and Production

19. Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers (e.g. primary metal/ steel, blow molding, component manufacturers, chemicals, etc. that feed the end-product manufacturer);
20. Businesses, facilities and services that support and facilitate the two- way movement of essential goods within integrated North American and Global supply chains.

Agriculture and food production

21. Businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food, including beverages, crops, animal products and by-products, aquaculture, hunting and fishing;
22. Businesses that support the food supply chain including assembly yards, livestock auctions, food distribution hubs, feed mills, farm equipment suppliers, feed suppliers, food terminals and warehouses, animal slaughter plants and grain elevators;
23. Business that support the safety of food including animal and plant health and animal welfare;
24. Businesses that provide veterinary services, and that supply veterinary and animal control medications and related supplies and testing kits;
25. Businesses that help to ensure safe and effective waste management including deadstock, rendering, nutrient management, bio hazardous materials, green waste, packaging recycling;


26. Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space;
27. Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance;
28. Construction work and services, including demolition services, in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors;
29. Construction work and services that supports health and safety environmental rehabilitation projects

Financial activities

30. Capital markets (e.g., the TSX);
31. Banking & Activities related to Credit Intermediation; credit unions;
32. Insurance;
33. Businesses that provide pension services and employee benefits services;
34. Businesses that provide financial services including payment processing, the payroll division of any employer (as defined by the Employment Standards Act/Occupational Health and Safety Act), any entity whose operation is the administration of payroll, banks and credit unions;


35. Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of mining materials and products (e.g. metals such as copper, nickel and gold) and that support supply chains in Northern Ontario including;
a. Mining operations, production and processing;
b. Mineral exploration and development;
c. Mining Supply and Services that support supply chains in the mining industry including maintenance of operations, health and safety.
36. Businesses that provide chemicals and gases to support the natural resource sector analytical labs and drinking water and wastewater sectors and other essential businesses;
37. Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of forestry products (e.g. lumber, pulp, paper, wood fuel, etc.);
38. Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of aggregates to support critical infrastructure repairs and emergency response requirements (e.g. sandbags, armour stone barriers, etc.);
39. Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of petroleum and petroleum by-products;

Environmental Services

40. Businesses that support environmental management/monitoring and spill clean-up and response, including environmental consulting firms, professional engineers and geoscientists, septics haulers, well drillers, pesticides applicators and exterminators, management of industrial sewage/effluent (eg for mining operations), and environmental laboratories;

Utilities and Community Services

41. Utilities, and Businesses that support the provision of utilities and community services, including by providing products, materials and services needed for the delivery of utilities and community services:
a. Waste Collection, Waste/ Sewage Treatment and Disposal, operation of landfills, and Hazardous Waste Disposal;
b. Potable drinking water;
c. Electricity Generation, transmission, distribution and storage;
d. Natural Gas distribution, transmission and storage,
e. Road construction and maintenance;
f. police, fire, emergency services including coroner services and pathology services ;
g. corrections and courts services;
h. other government services including licenses and permits;
42. Businesses engaged in or supporting the operation, maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure (railways, dams, bridges, highways, erosion control structures, etc.);

Communications Industries

43. Newspaper publishers;
44. Radio & Television Broadcasting;
45. Telecommunications providers;


46. Businesses and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and development activities;
47. Businesses that provide products and services that support research activities;

Health Care and Seniors Care and Social Services

48. Organizations and providers that deliver home care services;
49. Retirement homes;
50. Long-term Care Facilities;
51. Independent health facilities;
52. Laboratories and specimen collection centres;
53. Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals; medical devices and medical supplies
54. Manufacturers, logistics and distributors of products and/or services that support the delivery of health care in all locations (including but not limited to hospitals, labs, long-term care homes, other residential health care, physicians, nurse practitioners and midwives, and home care services);
55. Businesses that provide products and/or services that support the health sector or that provide health services, including mental health and addictions and counselling supports.
56. Businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies.
57. Businesses that provide personal support services (many seniors and persons with disabilities, who can afford to, hire individuals to assist with the activities of daily living).
58. Health care professionals providing emergency care including dentists optometrists and physio-therapists;
59. Not-for-profit organizations that provide critical personal support services in home and also provide residential services for individuals with physical disabilities (such as the Centre for Independent Living and March of Dimes);
60. Businesses and all other organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals, including but not limited to food banks, violence against women emergency shelters, homeless shelters, community housing, supportive housing, children’s aid societies, residential services for adults with developmental disabilities and for children, and custody and detention programs for young persons in conflict with the law;

Justice Sector

61. Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system;

Other Businesses

62. Rental and leasing services, including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
63. Businesses providing mailing, shipping, courier and delivery services, including post office boxes;
64. Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers;
65. Professional services including lawyers and para-legals, engineers, accountants, translators;
66. Businesses providing funeral, mortician, cremation, transfer, and burial services, and any related goods and products (such as coffins and embalming fluid);
67. Land registration services, and real estate agent services and moving services;
68. Businesses providing security services including private security guards; monitoring or surveillance equipment and services;
69. Businesses providing staffing services, including temporary help;
70. Businesses that support the safe operations of residences and essential businesses;
71. Businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including veterinarians, farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, zoos, aquariums, research facilities and other service providers;
72. Child care services for essential workers, and home child care services of less than six children;
73. Businesses providing cheque cashing services;

Business Regulators and Inspectors

74. Organizations, including Administrative Authorities, that regulate and inspect businesses.

March 23


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this morning that the Federal Government will be implementing a $5 billion credit program to support farmers. He also announced $192 million in new funding for the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Federal Government website now has a page devoted to the temporary wage subsidy for employers. With a frequently asked questions format, the page is designed to help employers figure out if they are eligible for the subsidy and how to calculate and apply.


The Government of Ontario has launched a new business website named Ontario Together. The website is designed to remove barriers allowing Ontario’s manufacturing sector to re-deploy capacity towards the production of essential equipment like ventilators, masks and swabs. The interactive site also allows for dialogue between business and government in the area of supply-chain innovation.

March 18

The Prime Minister has announced an $82 billion aid package to provide financial assistance to both citizens and businesses. This support aims to help Canadians pay for rent and groceries and to help businesses continue to meet payroll and pay bills. Support for businesses will include income supports, wage subsidies and tax deferrals. 
Support for citizens includes:
  1. Temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefits payments
  2. New Emergency Care Benefit to provide income support to workers who have to stay home without access to sick leave
  3. Extending the tax filing deadline to June 1
  4. Allowing taxpayers to defer tax payments until after August 31
  5. A six-month, interest free reprieve on student loan payments
Current details indicate that most aid will begin to come available in April. Full details of the plan as released can be found in the Economic Response report, with an implementation chart found at the bottom of the page.
Canada and the United States have agreed to restrict non-essential travel across the border. While Canadians will be allowed to return to home, the border will be closed to future recreation and tourism purposes. Both nations are working to ensure that trade between our two nations will not be affected.

March 17

The Government of Ontario has enacted a Declaration of Emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19. As a result, the following establishments are legally required to close immediately:
  1. All facilities providing indoor recreation programs
  2. All public libraries
  3. All private schools
  4. All licensed child day care centres
  5. All bars and restaurants except those that provide take-out food and delivery
  6. All theatres including movie cinemas, stage theatre, music and dance shows
  7. Concert venues

As well, all organized events larger than 50 people have been prohibited, which includes communal services within places of worship. This Declaration of Emergency also provides additional funds to combat COVID-19. For more information from the province, follow these links:

Additional Updates:

Chamber Email Updates:


The following are valuable links to sources of information that may benefit you as you make decisions for your business, staff and family going forward.

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has been given $10 billion to loan to small business during this COVID-19 crisis. Businesses that need support can go this website for more details:

FedNor remains at your disposal to help you with your business projects. For assistance, please contact your project officer directly or contact by email or telephone. FedNor has also requested that businesses fill out their FedNor COVID-19 Impact Form, which will allow them to gain a better understanding of the current effects the situation is having on businesses and allow them to better respond to rapidly changing needs. Please send FedNor this form and any other concerns you might have at this address.

The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) keeps a tourism focused update page on their website. They have also published the results of their first industry survey. The summary report will be used to inform decisions made by government to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on tourism.
Our Regional Tourism Operator, RTO-12/Explorers’ Edge, keeps an updated list of resources for tourism operators. As well, they encourage everyone to fill out their latest survey which can be found in their most recent update.

The YMCA Employment Services – Huntsville will be offering supports in an alternative fashion in the short term to employers and job seekers;

  • Not permitting ‘walk-in traffic’ into the centre; if an employer or job seeker requires any assistance they may email or call (705-787-0349 ext. 3000) directly for assistance.
  • Offering interview space to employers if you require it for hiring purposes; please call (705-787-0349 ext. 3000) or email to arrange for space. (on an as needed basis)
  • If you have employees who have been or will be laid off, you may provide them with the YMCA phone number so they can be supported with an EI (Employment Insurance) application.  Please see the following link for the online application or a Service Canada Representative can be reached at the following number 1-800-206-7218 if desired.

There are a couple of ways you could help us as well. In order to better serve our community, we need to have a current understanding of how this situation is affecting our businesses. We ask that all businesses in Huntsville and Lake of Bays complete the following survey. By helping us gather this information, it will arm us with data to assist you and advocate on your behalf.


Business Updates

Please visit the following link provided by Huntsville Doppler for a list of which businesses still have open storefronts, along with details on local grocery stores and pharmacies:

In this time we need to work together as much as possible to enable Huntsville and Lake of Bays to weather this situation and to position ourselves as the tourism leader once we are able to re-open our businesses and services to the public. If you have questions or need help finding the appropriate resources to assist you or your business, please reach out to us at the following address[email protected]

From all of us at the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce team we urge you to stay safe and promise to do everything in our power to assist you in this difficult time.

Chamber of Commerce members can expect the best!

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