Category News

On April 27, the Ontario government released a framework that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to guide the government’s eventual loosening of emergency measures. 

The top priority has, and always will be to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario. However the necessity to prepare for a responsible restart of Ontario’s economy is becoming a growing priority as well. 

Before addressing the stages of reopening, the government will consider factors that impact the risk of spreading COVID-19. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will be looking for criteria such as:

  • A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases
  • Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including ventilators and personal protective equipment 
  • Approximately 90% of new COVID-19 contacts being reached by local public health officials within one day to contain community spread 
  • Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations

Chief Medical Officer of Health, Christine Elliott, states that “the collective efforts of all Ontarians to stay at home and stop the spread of COVID-19” is what allowed the government to consider plans to move into the next phase. However, to achieve the next steps, it is crucial to continue these efforts so thresholds can be met and Ontario can begin to move forward.

There will be three stages involved in reopening the economy to ensure maximum safety. 

  • Stage 1: Identify select businesses that were ordered to close/restrict operations that can modify operations to meet public health guidelines. Opening outdoor spaces like parks. Hospitals can begin to offer select non-urgent and scheduled surgeries. 
  • Stage 2: Opening more workplaces that pose a low-risk, such as some service industries, offices, and retail workspaces. Some public gatherings would be allowed and more outdoor spaces open. 
  • Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.

It is noted that throughout these stages, there must be significant mitigation strategies to limit the risk of spread, this would include continued protection for vulnerable populations, strict hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and the continued practice of physical distancing.

For the official statement from the Ontario Government, click here

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Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announces partnerships with provincial governments to deliver Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for Small Businesses. This program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

What you should know:

  • The program provides forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three rent payments. These are payable by eligible small business tenants’ who are experiencing financial hardship during the months of April to June.
  • These loans will be forgiven if mortgaged property owners agree to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% for the three corresponding months. This would operate under a rent forgiveness agreement, which includes not evicting the tenant while this agreement is in place.
  • Small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

For more information and the official statement by the federal government click here.

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Dr. Bill Howatt, chief of research, Workforce Productivity at The Conference Board of Canada, has produced a short video that focuses on Mental Health and COVID-19.

You can see the video below, which contains an acronym for PLAY.

P is for Passion: Do the things that you love and bring you joy and do them with intention.

L is for Live in the Moment: Capture special moments, and don’t take them for granted.

A is for Awesome: Look for the awesomeness in every day and embrace it.

Y is for Youthful: Don’t be afraid to have fun, be silly and be vulnerable every now and then.

The entire video by Dr. Howatt can be seen below:

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Patrick Gill, senior director of Tax and Financial Policy with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is offering a five-step plan for businesses to find their way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

His comments come on behalf of the Canadian Business Resilience Network, an initiative of the Canadian Chamber.

“It feels as though the world has stopped and in many ways it has,” said Gill. “So what should non-essentials do when a winter like this has come. Before cash balances dry up, Canadian businesses should use the emergency measures that governments coast to coast have announced to put their workers and operations into a state of hibernation.”

Gill says if your company is not able to function right now, “think—hibernation.”

He lists five ways to make this happen.

—1. Take care of the health, safety and liquidity of your workers. Use the emergency benefit of the new wage subsidy to keep your workers attached to you ,but safe at home. “And please don’t let go of your workers if you can,” said Gill. “You’ll recover faster if you do.”

—2. Talk to your bank or credit union about your debt obligations or accessing emergency credit. Interest rates have been slashed and interest-free loans are available and the business credit availability program can help as well.

—3. Don’t worry about the taxman right now. Tax deadlines, audits and payments have been extended at every level. Call your accountant for details.

—4. Speak to your landlord and discuss the situation with them. And know that many provincial governments have stayed evictions. It’s in both parties’ best interest to sort things out.

—5. start planning now for your emergence from hibernation.

“This winter will end how quickly and successfully you emerge can be boosted by doing a little planning now,” said Gill.  “And remember, we’re all in this together. So speak to your banking partners—your lawyer, insurer, banker and accountant. They want to help and they can help. You can survive this economic winter by hibernating like a Canadian.”


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Corporate Knights, a sustainable business magazine, is celebrating Wednesday’s 50th anniversary of Earth Day with a list of 50 green initiatives by companies who working to create a sustainable planet.

The magazine recognizes that when Earth Day was born, concerns were mounting about the lead fumes puffing out of tailpipes, the Cleveland river soaked in industrial waste that had caught on fire the year prior, and the thousands of dead, oil-soaked birds that had washed up on the beaches of Santa Barbara in the largest oil spill in American history.

By the end of 1970, the United States Environmental Protection Agency had been founded, ushering in an era of groundbreaking clean-air, water, and endangered-species regulations that would reshape corporate America’s relationship with nature, providing a cornerstone for modern environmental policy.

The full story on the positive impacts the organizers of Earth Day have been able to see in that half-century can be seen HERE,


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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is creating a series of webinars entitled “Shaping the Current & Post-Pandemic Business Community”. 

Thought leaders of various disciplines from our community will offer their insights and guide a free-flowing discussion with participants.

Siskinds LLP, with offices in Sarnia and London, is presenting the first of the series: “How to Deal with Leaves & Lay-Offs”.

It will take place on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 2 p.m.

Register at by clicking HERE.


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As results continue to come in on a survey sponsored by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, a picture of continued pressure on local business due to the COVID-19 lockdown is emerging.

Still, we are looking for additional participation, results of which will be shared with local, provincial and federal authorities.

The link to the latest version of the survey can be found HERE.

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As we adjust to the realities of Covid-19, we’re sharing what four local businesses are doing to make a difference in our community.

Included in the list of “pay it forward” contributors is Sitara Indian Cuisine, who has provided more than 800 complimentary meals to front-line staff at Bluewater Health, an initiative that was coordinated with Adelle Stewardson of the Bluewater Health Foundation.

Refined Fool Brewing Co., is partnering with Lambton College to manufacture hand sanitizer for donation to Bluewater Health. Pictured is Matt Barnes of Refined Fool.

Little Caesars, which operates five restaurants locally, is donating meals to front-line healthcare workers at several long-term care facilities.

Another business, the Toy Corner is using its social media channels to offer curbside pickup or delivery to keep toys circulating in Sarnia-Lambton.

All of these organizations are demonstrating that a spirit of generosity and commitment to customer service is something that shows how we move forward, despite the challenges we face.

Do you have a story about how your business (or one you know) is making a difference in these challenging times? We’d love to hear from you, so we can share with our members.

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