The Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation (“SLBDC”) is pleased to advise that, in light of the current uncertainty in the economic climate, it will assist in facilitating the sustainability of Lambton County based businesses through the crisis by providing financial support through a NEW round of the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) in collaboration with the Federal Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

 

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) offers financial support for businesses in Lambton County that are unable to access federal and provincial relief funding programs, or are unable to obtain a loan/credit from traditional financial institutions.

 

Eligible businesses interested in a Regional Relief and Recovery Fund loan will be expected to provide the SLBDC with a completed application and supporting documents. Maximum assistance under the program will be $40,000 to be used for operational costs, staff related costs, and costs related to the return to operations for those businesses which have been closed.

 

Loans will be provided at 0% (zero) interest, with no scheduled principal payments until March 31, 2023. Principal repayments can be made at any time and 25% (not to exceed $10,000) of the loan can be forgiven provided the recipient has paid 75% of the original loan amount prior to December 31, 2022. If the recipient is unable to repay the loan by March 31, 2023, the loan will be converted to a term loan with interest rates up to 5%, effective April 01, 2023. The full balance must be repaid by no later than December 31, 2025.

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Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, issued the following statement marking National Housing Day:

“On this special day I would like to acknowledge the important work done by our housing and homelessness partners across the province, and across the country, to support our most vulnerable and ensure they have a safe place to call home.

Our government is committed to tackling the housing pressures that have been building for years. We are actively working with our federal and municipal partners, investing in more affordable housing, expanding the community housing supply and addressing local housing needs.

We were the first province to sign on to the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit, which is making $1.4 billion available to help people in need pay their rent. This year we expect 5,200 Ontarians to receive direct payments, and we anticipate that number to grow in the future due to the hardship created by the pandemic.

When COVID-19 struck, we knew that we needed to take steps to protect the most vulnerable, including those in precarious housing situations. That’s why we are providing $510 million to municipalities and Indigenous program partners through the Social Services Relief Fund. It can be used to help deliver critical supports – such as expanding shelter services, food banks, emergency services and rent supports – and encourage the development of longer-term, permanent solutions to homelessness.

Creating permanent housing is a priority for our government. That’s why we developed a Community Housing Renewal Strategy to help address the high demand for housing and the stress on our community housing system. As part of the strategy, we are investing nearly $1 billion this year to help sustain, repair and grow community housing and help end homelessness in Ontario.

This past July, our government passed Bill 184, the Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act, which lays the groundwork for us to empower our community housing providers, protect our existing housing stock and create new supply.

Our government will freeze rent in 2021 for rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled units, to give the vast majority of Ontario tenants some relief during these unprecedented times.

We are also supporting creative solutions to help more people find the housing they need. The new Veterans’ Village that will be built in Kingston is one example of how Ontario is turning unused provincial properties into affordable housing. And I am encouraged that more communities are exploring modular supportive housing units. Our government wants to work with communities to ensure projects can begin quickly and more people can get a roof over their head.   

Our government will continue to work closely with all of our partners to find innovative ways to help more people access the affordable housing and the support they need today, and in the years to come.”

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Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is seeking to develop new solutions to extend the range of wireless terrestrial backhaul links to reduce backbone infrastructure costs while providing robust and reliable high-speed communications meeting the needs of recently adopted Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC) 50/10 broadband requirements.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of affordable and reliable high-speed Internet to allow all Canadians to participate in the digital economy. Bringing Internet connectivity to remote and rural communities remains a significant challenge given the wide areas and the low-population densities that have to be covered. Typical backbone infrastructure solutions like fibre optic networks, microwave links and satellite services are often uneconomical. Innovation, Science, and Economic Development’s (ISED) Spectrum and Telecommunications Sector (STS) is seeking a technical solution to increase the achievable tower-to-tower distance in wireless terrestrial backhaul links – when compared to existing solutions – that would result in a significant reduction of the number of wireless hops required to reach remote communities. This may also enable new multi-hop paths based on locations where power and road access are available to service communications towers. The proposed solution must demonstrate innovations and developments beyond current state of the art technology, in one or more of the following areas:

  • path loss characterization and system design, including adaptive antenna design and/or waveform design to compensate for fading due to over-the-horizon transmission paths, antenna deflection, and other fading phenomena;
  • power amplification design to increase the achievable transmission power in the operating frequency range; or
  • any other areas and solutions which may contribute

Restrictions on frequency bands available for wireless backhaul in Canada may be loosened in underpopulated areas of the country, opening up opportunities for innovative approaches to deliver this service.

To learn about the desired outcomes and considerations, click here.

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Business leaders from across the country are increasingly concerned about the critical impact COVID-19 continues to have upon working women, and the resulting productivity loss within businesses owned by them or employing them.  

The sentiment has been a stubbornly recurrent theme when business leaders meet, as over more than 900 of them did during last month’s Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The Canadian Chamber’s Council for Women’s Advocacy (CWA) has been more aggressively sounding the alarm bell.

“Business leaders view keeping women in the workforce as an economic issue, and one that can significantly impact Canada’s ability to recover from COVID-19. We call on the federal government to act swiftly to deliver help directly to working women in days, not months,” said Kevin McCreadie, CEO and Chief Investment Officer, AGF Management Limited, and CWA co-chair. “Now is the time to put the ‘emergency’ back into the notion of emergency support programs.”

“The Council for Women’s Advocacy has reiterated five steps the federal government can take right now to address this critical gap supporting women, working parents, business owners and transitioning employees across the country through the continued crisis. We have shared these plans with the government, they have acknowledged the need to act and supported our policy proposals. Now we need them to act, with urgency,” said Penny Wise, President, 3M Canada Company, and CWA co-chair.

The business community sees two key issues that must be resolved immediately to ensure women remain engaged in the workforce.

First, Canada as a whole must urgently and significantly improve rapid testing across the country, which will help ensure that schools and daycares can remain open.

Second, Canada needs a coordinated solution on childcare funding so women sidelined from the workforce can re-enter it.  This must focus on immediate and direct paths of support to parents, and community-level solutions at local levels.

“The reality on the ground is daycare and schools need to remain open to keep women in the workforce. All daycare is local, as are schools, and that’s where the federal government must deliver the help it has promised for working women. Any funding mechanisms need to go directly to working mothers and childcare providers for them to be meaningful, and more important, timely,” said Leah Nord, Senior Director, Workforce Strategies and Inclusive Growth at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The CWA is a cornerstone of the Canadian Chamber’s diversity and inclusion initiative, established to bring the voice and perspectives of women to national policies, inform the Canadian Chamber’s initiatives in advancing the gender equality agenda, and drive meaningful action to address the identified issues and barriers. The CWA will continue to explore recommendations that the federal government can implement to support women through the recovery period, alongside looking at best practices and guidance for the business community.

Members of the Council of Women’s Advocacy and its Working Group can be found by clicking here.

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New data published by Statistics Canada in the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC) reveals that businesses in the food service and accommodation industry have laid off staff at nearly double the rate of other businesses (62.1% versus the national average of 36.5%). Worryingly, this places restaurants and hotels 15 points worse-off than any other industry.

Looking forward, 22.5% of businesses in accommodation and food services also expect to decrease their staffing levels over the next three months, which is more than double the national average (10.4%).

While these businesses reported they had applied for a number of government supports, less than a quarter (23%) were approved for CECRA, the previous commercial rent support program. This underscores that Canadian jobs and livelihoods depend on successful support programs being in place to keep businesses afloat.

“This new data unfortunately paints a bleak and desperate picture for those food service and accommodation businesses that somehow made it through until now. Even for these survivors, it’s crunch time. The need for governments to switch from broad-based support programs to targeted supports is now clear,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “

The latest CSBC data was collected from Canadian businesses, supported by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, from mid-September through mid-October, which confirms the food service and accommodation industry is among the hardest hit.

“It’s concerning to consider that this data, stark as it is, was collected at a time before much of the country was faced with the full force of a second wave of COVID-19. This data is also collected from businesses that, by definition, are the survivors from the first wave,” added Beatty. “Now that we are facing a second wave, winter coming, and depleted business reserves, it is crucial for the government to urgently provide targeted supports to businesses that depend on personal interactions to survive. This includes restaurants, hotels, travel, tourism, and hospitality businesses primarily. Canadian livelihoods depend on it.”

For more data on how the food services industry has been impacted by COVID-19, click here.

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The Ontario government is providing over $37 million to significantly expand mental health services across the justice system. The funding will be used to expand mobile crisis teams across the province, hire additional staff, and support the creation of tailored programs for First Nations communities. This is part of the government’s $176 million investment this year in the Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario’s plan to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system. It is also a key component of Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.

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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Retail Council of Canada, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Business Council of Canada & Canadian Federation of Independent Business wrote the following open letter to Canadian Premiers about forming a coherent and consistent approach to fighting COVID.

“Dear Premiers,

On behalf of business leaders, entrepreneurs and employers across Canada, we are writing to stress the need for coherent and consistent direction and guidelines across all levels of government in the fight against COVID-19.

With cases increasing at an alarming rate, we recognize that you face a difficult balancing act between saving lives and saving livelihoods. The challenge for us all is to chart a path forward that protects Canadians’ health as well as their economic well- being.

As you work toward making sound choices that balance economic value and public health, we propose five key principles that we believe should guide our collective response. We believe they are vital to ensuring the highest levels of compliance.

Be consistent, particularly with regard to mask use and social gatherings. Canadians are receiving far too many conflicting messages. While regional variations in infection rates may call out for different responses, public health officials should strive to be as consistent as possible in the advice they give. Governments should not impose restrictions on low-risk business activity if evidence suggests that community spread is driven by non-compliance with social-gathering guidelines.

Provide as much detail as possible. Canadians are much more likely to comply with public health guidance when they understand the details behind those decisions. The more information you can share on a consistent basis about the cause, nature and location of outbreaks, the better.

Avoid blanket approaches. Most Canadians and most businesses are following the rules. They should not be punished for the irresponsible actions of a few. Those who endanger others should face consequences, with strong local enforcement. When restrictions are necessary, they should be applied with care to ensure a level playing field.

Support the hardest hit. Employees and business owners should not suffer financially when they are denied the ability to work because of pandemic restrictions such as stay-at-home orders and Indigenous community access closures. While the federal and provincial governments have created several helpful business relief programs and more are in development, they are not ready and proportionate to the size of the challenge we are facing during the second wave of COVID-19.

Share best practices. We will be living with COVID-19 for many months to come and we must strive constantly to improve our management of the pandemic. Governments and public health officials should continue to share best practices and seize every opportunity to harmonize and learn from other jurisdictions and communities.

We are grateful for your leadership and will continue to work with you and your officials to keep Canadians safe.

Sincerely,

 

Hon. Perrin Beatty, P.C., O.C.

President & CEO

Canadian Chamber of Commerce

 

Diane Brisebois

President & CEO

Retail Council of Canada

 

Tabatha Bull

President & CEO

Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

 

Dennis A. Darby, P.Eng., ICD.D

President & CEO

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

 

Goldy Hyder

President & CEO

Business Council of Canada

 

Dan Kelly

President & CEO

Canadian Federation of Independent Business”

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A Joint Statement by the Canadian Chamber and Canadian Federation of Independent Business on Streamlining the Employer Certification for Working-From-Home Expenses for Canadians:

“Since March 2020, more than 6 million Canadians have been required to work from home because of public health orders, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities. This means an unprecedented number of taxpayers will be eligible to claim work-from-home deductions on their personal income tax return for 2020.

Under the current system, employers are required to fill out a special form – known as the T2200 – to confirm that a given employee has worked from home and can claim deductions for home office expenses, such as rent or utilities. This system however, will generate a burdensome amount of paperwork for Canadian employers already struggling to adapt to the pandemic.

Left unaddressed, employers next year will be required to devote significant resources and employee hours to filling out millions of forms to confirm what the government already knows – an unprecedented number of Canadians are working from home because the government has asked them to do so. If employers are required to fill out any multi-page form for this purpose, the compliance cost for businesses of all sizes will likely exceed the benefits paid out to employees.

We have welcomed the many measures the federal government has taken to support businesses and individual Canadians in this difficult time. However, time is running out for the federal government to take steps on T2200s. We strongly encourage the government to make it simple and convenient for employees to claim existing work-from-home tax deductions.

In particular, we urge the federal Minister of Finance to work with the Canada Revenue Agency to waive the requirement for employers to fill out the T2200 forms for the 2020 tax year and create a simplified temporary tax deduction for individuals working from home. This will enable the Canada Revenue Agency to focus resources in the coming months on support and education for the millions of Canadian employees who will be applying for this tax deduction for the first time.

At a time of unprecedented upheaval in the economy, we believe it makes good sense for the government to take advantage of every available opportunity to support struggling Canadian employers with sensible changes to regulatory and tax requirements.”

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Our Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the 100 scarves program will display scarves out front for a week starting today from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Anything left at the end of the week will be donated to local shelters and those in need. 

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