March 31 COVID-19 Update
Today the Provincial Government closed all outdoor recreation amenities and announced that schools will remain closed until at least May 4. Justin Trudeau delivered an update on Canadians producing and procuring personal protective equipment.
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 this afternoon 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.
The Province of Ontario announced that all outdoor recreation amenities across the province will be closed immediately. 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.
Ontario has launched a new dedicated web page to enhance public information and provide more accurate COVID-19 updates. A new summary includes more provincial and regional data on confirmed cases, including trends of cases since the outbreak began, as well as statistics on geography, exposure and severity.
Yesterday the Government of Ontario prohibited gatherings of more than 5 people. Acting on the advice of the Province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, prohibited public events include parades, social events such as weddings and worship services. The order does not apply to private households of 5 people or more and funerals are permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time. You can read the full news release on the Province’s news website.
Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the production and procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for Canada’s frontline workers in the health and essential services industries. The Government has committed $2 billion to purchase and distribute PPE. Trudeau announced supply contracts with a number of major corporations to produce and distribute essential equipment. He thanked business owners across the country who have retooled production lines to produce PPE. He said: “It is what Canadians do. We roll up our sleeves and help each other.”
Yesterday 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 evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in our region, which means the virus is spreading in the community and is not linked to travel or a previously known case. Community transmission means that we should expect the number of cases will start to rise over the next days and weeks. The Health Unit stresses the absolute need for distancing, isolation and cleanliness to help prevent further infection.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.