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March 27 COVID-19 Update

COVID-19

Today Justin Trudeau promised more support for small and medium-sized businesses. The Provincial Government also announced further financial relief for businesses and news from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. 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.
It remains our goal to provide you with concise, up-to-date, daily information in a quick and easy to read format. Below are some important local links for continued updates.

Local News

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.
Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit announced yesterday the first laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 in Huntsville. The patient is a man in his 20s who contracted the virus while travelling in Austria/Switzerland and is currently in self-isolation. The Health Unit stresses the necessity of practicing isolation and distancing at this time.
Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare has released a letter to the community with a COVID-19 update. CEO Natalie Bubela has also produced a message to our communities which can be viewed as a video or read in a blog post. MAHC maintains a COVID-19 Information Page on their website.
The Lakeview Physicians Family Health Organization has updated their information and resource page to include current clinic practices for their patients. They also maintain a list of resources open to all.
Parry Sound Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison has released a video update with information and updates for local constituents.

Provincial Government

Yesterday the Government of Ontario announced that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will be deferring premium payments for 6 months. Applicable to all businesses within the province, all employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible to defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. Businesses will not have to opt in to receive the benefit. WSIB will also cease interest accrual on all outstanding payments for the 6 month period. The Government wants to ensure all businesses that there will be no negative consequences for those who defer reporting and payment. You can read the official news release for more details.
Also yesterday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced temporary measures to support bars, restaurants and alcohol retailers. Effective immediately, licensed restaurants and bars in Ontario may sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders between the hours of 9:00 am and 11:00 pm. All active liquor licensees may immediately begin offering this service and there is no application process or fee required. The AGCO is also temporarily allowing authorized grocery stores and liquor manufacturer retail stores to begin selling alcohol at 7:00 am to support early shopping programs for vulnerable citizens. Be sure to read the full news report for further rules and details.
This week Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. Highlights of the plan include $3.3 billion in additional health care resources, $3.7 billion to directly and urgently support people and protect jobs and $10 billion earmarked for tax and other deferrals for people and businesses. A quick guide to the Action Plan has been released, or you can read the full action plan online.

Federal Government

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.
Trudeau said that more details will be forthcoming, and he asked employers to “Please keep workers on your payroll or consider hiring them back.”
Yesterday the Government announced that all in-person Service Canada Centres will be closed to protect the safety of employees and their families. Employees at Service Canada sites will turn their attention to serving Canadians over the phone. In the official news release, citizens are reminded that accessing benefits is still easiest through their online portal.
The Bank of Canada announced today that it is dropping its interest rate by 50 basis points to 0.25%. Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said that the rate cut is meant to cushion the negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis to financial markets and to ease the cost of borrowing for struggling businesses.
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.

Business & Tourism Report

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses has released the results of their most recent survey. The report can help you understand what other businesses across the country are facing and will be used to inform governments on the issues existing within the business community.
Parry Sound Muskoka Community Network is suggesting business owners read the following post. While produced in the United States, there are several services included in the resource list that are applicable to Canadian businesses as well.
BDO Canada maintains a page on their website dedicated to helping businesses cope with the effects of COVID-19. Titled How Do We Adapt to COVID-19, the page contains information on topics such as tax implications, risk management and economic impact strategies.
Our Regional Tourism Operator, RTO-12/Explorers’ Edge, responding to results from their recent survey, has written an urgent plea to local municipal officials and administrators regarding the current situation. This letter is designed to update and inform these leaders regarding the need for immediate supportive measures for tourism businesses.
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.

Member Updates

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.


Further Resources

Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (RDA’s) are responsible for economic development and have issued an informative single-page document to help you understand their role and where you can reach out for assistance. You can contact FedNor for support for your business.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has published the following guide to assist businesses in working through the changes COVID-19 will have on your business.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses has also published helpful resources for your business.
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has been given $10 billion to loan to small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. They have created a support webpage with links for small business loans, working capital loans and purchase order financing.
FedNor has requested that businesses fill out their FedNor COVID-19 Impact Form, which will allow them to better respond to rapidly changing needs. Please send FedNor this form and any other concerns you might have to this address.
Additional Resources:

Moving Forward

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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