April 1 COVID-19 Update
Today Justin Trudeau announced more details about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) including application dates and timelines. The Provincial Government has extended school closures and announced the second wave of the Learn at Home program. Also, a COVID-19 Assessment Centre has been opened in Huntsville.
Please remember that we have launched a revised survey to help us better understand your needs and how we can help. Please take the time to fill out this survey on our website. We are also maintaining a COVID-19 Update Page on our website. Below are some important local links.
Premier Doug Ford announced yesterday that the Province’s schools will remained closed to teachers until at least May 1 and to students until at least May 4. He also reminded post-secondary students that student loan payments through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) will be deferred until September 30, 2020. Borrowers will not be required to make loan payments and interest will not accrue during this time.
Along with the out-of-school extension, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the second phase of Ontario’s Learn at Home program, describing it as a “teacher-led program that keeps students learning at home.” This phase features a new set of expectations for the education community which includes re-establishing teacher-led learning by grouping grades and a minimum expectation of work per student/week. It also focusses on requiring final report cards for all students and prioritizing and supporting students on track to graduate. You can go online to read the full news release.
All outdoor recreation amenities across the province have been officially closed. The new order closes all communal or shared, public or private outdoor recreational amenities. This includes: playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, beaches, skateboard and bmx parks, picnic areas, outdoor community gardens, park shelters, outdoor exercise equipment, condo parks and gardens and other outdoor recreation amenities. Green spaces in parks and conservation areas that are not officially closed will remain open for walk through access, but users must maintain the safe physical distance of 2 metres.
The Province has also extended the Declaration of Emergency and all subsequent emergency orders until April 13, 2020. This includes the measures to close non-essential workplaces, prohibiting public gatherings, electricity pricing and more.
Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided further details about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Canadians who have lost their job due to COVID-19 will be able to apply for the benefit starting April 6 either online at Canada.ca or by phone to Service Canada at 1-800-622-6232. You should receive your money in 3-5 days if you choose direct deposit, or in 10 days if you choose to receive a cheque by mail. If you are currently receiving Employment Insurance benefits you should not apply. A person can not receive the CERB benefit and the new wage subsidy benefit, and recipients will only be required to confirm once per month that they remain out of work. The benefit will be retroactive to March 15. Trudeau said of the crisis in general that: “The Government alone can not fight this fight. Staying home is your way to serve your country.”
Monday the Prime Minister announced more details about the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. A business will be eligible for the subsidy provided it has seen a revenue decrease of at least 30%. The subsidy applies to all businesses, including not-for-profit and charities, regardless of the number of employees. The subsidy will provide 75% of employee wages for the first $58,700 earned, which works out to a maximum of $847 per week. As stated last week, this subsidy will be retroactive to March 15. Trudeau did not give details of how to apply or how soon money would be available, saying that the government is working on the background documents as quickly as possible. To business owners he said: “We are trusting you. Try to make every effort to top up the remaining 25% of employee wages and to rehire laid off workers.” He also cautioned that there would be, “serious consequences for anyone found taking advantage of the system.”
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit announced that there is now a COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Huntsville located in Building B, 100 Frank Miller Drive, behind the Howland Building. Please note that anyone experiencing symptoms must first see their doctor or nurse practitioner. If you do not have either then call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-767-0000 or access the Ministry of Health Self-Assessment Tool. If you have been advised by one of these resources to attend the Assessment Centre you must book an appointment by calling 1-888-383-7009. The COVID-19 Assessment Centre is NOT open for walk-in visits. The Health Unit has a YouTube channel that you can visit or subscribe to for daily updates.
Tourism & Business Report
Our Regional Tourism Operator, RTO-12/Explorers’ Edge, would like to remind tourism stakeholders to complete their most recent survey. They also maintain a resource page for the tourism industry.
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.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has produced a news release with information about the Government’s wage subsidy program. They are also urging businesses to fill out Statistics Canada’s official COVID-19 survey
Provide us with your business updates so we can feature them daily and get your information out to other members. Other important updates can be found on our COVID-19 Information page. Send us your information to this email address: [email protected] or call us directly at 705-789-4771.
Let Us Help
We have created a web page with resources and updates, including a survey for you to fill out about the status of your own business. Please take the time to complete our revised survey, to enable us to share your updates with fellow members and the community.
We also encourage you to provide us with insights about your current business status. Are you closed, open or do you have modified hours? Do you have changes in service or contact information you would like to share? Send us your updates to this email address: [email protected] or call us directly at 705-789-4771 and we will share your updates to the membership.
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.