Listed below is a collection of information and links to various resources available to the business community. Please check back frequently as the situation unfolds.
A toll-free number is available from the Government of Ontario to provide support to Ontario businesses that have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. Please call 1-888-444-3659 for more information.
Second Provincial Emergency Declared | Province Issues Stay at Home Order – January 12, 2021
In response to a doubling in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, the real and looming threat of the collapse of the province’s hospital system and alarming risks posed to long-term care homes as a result of high COVID-19 transmission rates, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).
Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.
Province Wide Lockdown – December 26, 2020
Please see the slidedeck provided by the Province of Ontario outlining what the lockdown means for the business community. The information contained in this document is intended to communicate a summary of information about measures proposed to come into effect in Ontario or in areas of Ontario at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 26. The material is not legal advice and does not purport to be or to provide an interpretation of the law. In the event of any conflict or difference between this summary information and any applicable legislation or regulation, the legislation or regulation prevails.
We have over 1000 businesses in BWG ranging from home occupations to large commercial operations that employ hundreds of people. These businesses will play an important role in the recovery of our community. The BWG Office of Economic Development office is committed to supporting the immediate and long-term economic success of the business community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Council recently adopted the COVID-19 Resiliency and Recovery Strategy which outlines several programs and initiatives to assist businesses at the local level over the next 2 years. All requests for assistance as they pertain to COVID-19 are being processed through our website portal. Staff are here to provide updates on programming, funding and on-going support during COVID-19.
The complete strategy can be found here. Town staff will continue to support our business community during this difficult time. To ensure the health and safety of our clients, all business support activities will be conducted via phone and online. We continue to work with our partners at Nottawasaga Futures to deliver free one-on-one consulting to our local entrepreneurs, as well as implement the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) which provides financial support directly to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Province recently announced the Ontario Small Business Support Grant that will begin accepting applications in January of 2021. Businesses with less than 100 employees, and with a minimum 20% drop in year/year revenue comparing April 2020 to April 2019, are eligible for a one time grant of between $10,000 and $20,000.
More details will be provided on this site as it becomes available.
Message from Mayor Rob Keffer….
The Town would like to remind residents and community members that there are many ways to support our local businesses as the owners and employees deal with very challenging times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Grey Zone lockdown we can continue to support our local businesses through online shopping, curbside pick up and take-out food options. Our local businesses need our support so please think of them first for your shopping needs. These are little ways we can support one another in positive ways, while remaining safe. Wishing everyone the very best over the holiday season and looking forward to a brighter and prosperous 2021.
Government of Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework: BWG Status LOCKDOWN
On November 3, 2020, the Government of Ontario developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework to ensure that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.
The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally.
It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.
The Town of BWG, part of the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit, is presently classified as LOCKDOWN as of December 26th, 2020.
NEW - Grants, Loans & Support for Businesses
Government of Ontario
- Ontario Small Business Support Grant for businesses with less than 100 employees, and with a minimum 20% drop in year/year revenue comparing April 2020 to April 2019, are eligible for a one time grant of between $10 000 and $20 000.
- Main Street Relief Grant for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) providing up to $1,000 for PPE costs to eligible small businesses across Ontario with 2 to 9 employees.
- Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebate Grants for businesses that were required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures (modified Stage 2 restrictions or, going forward, in areas categorized as control, Lockdown or Provincewide Shutdown). This provincial application-based grant provides a rebate to eligible businesses in respect of property taxes and energy bills.
COVID Tourism Response Fund (Grant)
Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7) in collaboration with Simcoe County, Grey County, the City of Barrie and the City of Orillia will be administering non-repayable financial support ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 to small and medium tourism businesses in Grey and Simcoe counties and the cities of Barrie and Orillia.
All small to medium tourism businesses that support tourism are encouraged to apply (including non-profits) to help offset the high cost of keeping patrons and staff safe while adapting to the changing health and safety requirements and the increasing safety demands during COVID-19.
Application due by Sunday, January 31, 2021, 11:59pm. Applicants need to have a matching cash contribution of 20%.
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (Loan)
The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) will provide financial support directly to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to address COVID-19 impacts on rural and remote communities, contributing to their short-term stability. This access to financing will support southern Ontario SMEs, and not-for-profit organizations, including Social Enterprises that provide support services to SMEs (such as business or sector-based organizations) as well as those engaging in commercial activities (commercial activities refer to conduct that is commercial in character such as selling, bartering or leasing) that do not qualify for or have been rejected from, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures. Funding available through your local Canada Futures Development Corporation (CFDC)
To provide targeted assistance to the small towns and communities they serve, CFDCs will focus on assisting “main street” businesses, such as retail shops, restaurants, corner stores, and businesses of strategic importance to their communities, with loans up to $40,000.
Eligible Applicants for RRRF Loans: SMEs, and NFP organizations, including Social Enterprises that provide support services to SMEs (such as business or sector-based organizations) as well as those engaging in commercial activities (commercial activities refer to conduct that is commercial in character such as selling, bartering or leasing).
Free Local Business Consulting Service and Assistance with Relief Applications - Apply Online!
The Town of BWG has contracted with Nottawasaga Futures to host a free consulting program. Nottawasaga Futures can assist with applications for business assistance and:
- Ensure your website is optimized for buying or booking appointments online
- Setup online ordering for both delivery and take-out on your website
- Convert existing stores to e-commerce to offer online buying capabilities
- Offer online and/or live classes or consultations using Skype, ZOOM, etc
Apply for assistance with the Online Assistance Form. Information provided goes directly to Nottawasaga Futures and is confidential.
For more information, please contact 1-800-509-7554 or email@example.com.
The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) offered by CONTACT Community Services allows community members with low income to have their income tax filed with the help of a volunteer at no cost. Due to COVID, clinics scheduled for March and April have been cancelled.
To assist, CONTACT is offering a Flex Funding program for applicants to receive financial assistance to have their taxes done by a tax professional. Please visit www.contactsouthsimcoe.ca/ or call Lacey DeBeer at 705-435-4900 ext. 206. for more information.
New Patio Program under Consideration for Spring 2021
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Town of BWG COVID-19 Temporary Patio Program during the summer of 2020. The program finished on Sunday, November 1. With the program proving very popular with both owners and patrons, the Office of Economic Development is working with the Town’s Downtown Revitalization Committee to create another program for proposed implementation in spring 2021. Details are being discussed now, with an anticipated timeframe to go to Council for approval in January/February 2021.
Restauranteurs on private property who wish to explore options during the intervening winter months are encouraged to contact the Office of Economic Development at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW - Get Online with Digital Main Street!
The County of Simcoe is providing $60,000 in funding towards a unique program to help local businesses adapt their sales models to meet the needs of the ever-changing online consumer world. The funding will cover portions of the costs for a Digital Service Squad to provide one-on-one training to local businesses and their employees.
To qualify, the small or medium-sized business must:
- Employ 1-99 employees
- Pay commercial property tax (commercially assessed), either directly or through commercial rent
- Be registered business in Ontario and/or incorporated
- Operate within one of the County’s 16 member municipalities
- Be owned by an Ontario resident
To sign up for Digital Service Squad assistance, businesses in BWG should contact the Barrie, Simcoe County and Orillia Small Business Enterprise Centre at 705-720-2445 or email@example.com.
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) has been approved by the Government of Canada, to replace the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which expired on September 26, 2020. The CRB will provide financial relief for Canadians who don’t qualify for an updated Employment Insurance (EI) program or one of the two accompanying benefits*.
CRB is for workers aged 15 and over who don’t qualify for EI or who are self-employed. If you lost your employment because of COVID-19, or if your income has dropped by at least 50 per cent, then you may qualify.
You must have earned a minimum of $5,000 in 2019, in 2020, or in the 12 months preceding your first application for this benefit — either from employment, EI, maternity or parental benefits or from Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits. You must also be available and looking for work.
You will receive $500 per week for up to 26 weeks.
*The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) provides $500 per week for up to two weeks for workers who are sick, or who must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19. People who receive paid sick leave from their employer are not eligible.
*The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child or family member.
You cannot claim CRCB or CRSB while on EI or CRB.
For more information on these programs, please visit the Government of Canada website.
Notices (Updated January 15)
August 31: Canada United Small Business Fund now open
July 13: Province announces Stage 3 Re-opening for Friday, July 17 (Guidelines for Businesses)
June 17: Ontario pauses commercial evictions
April 4: New Government of Ontario Online Portal – Ontario Takes Steps to Keep Food on the Table during COVID-19
COVID Information by Community
Updated statistics on COVID-19, including demographics, employment and cases by community. Information is available on the Townfolio website.
General Resources for Businesses
Mortgage Deferrals for Small Business: Many financial institutions are deferring mortgage payments and potentially other credit product payments up to six months – businesses are encouraged to reach out individually to discuss with a representative.
Federal COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Specifics of the $82 Billion package from the Government of Canada to support all Canadians, including the business community.
Ontario Specific Updates: The most up-to-date information from the Government of Ontario and the Ministry of Health
Canada calls for Supply of Goods and Services: The Government of Canada is seeking businesses to supply key materials and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tools and Tactics for Business during COVID-19: A collection of resources from MARS in areas such as Human Resources, Cash Flow, Supply Chain and Sales/Marketing.
Online Resources for Employers: Agilec works with business owners, community leaders, and job seekers to help them navigate periods of change and challenge, and is providing free resources online to support the community. They also offer custom leadership webinars. Topics include mental health for leaders, objectivity, crisis intervention and others. Please connect with Crystal Dolliver at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Tools to Help Your Business Operate Virtually
Use an e-commerce platform to sell and market your products. Platforms such as Shopify offer all of the ecommerce and point of sale features that you need to get your business up and running virtually. Shopify offers a 14-day free trial period as well as access to an online academy to get you up and running.
Create a simple website to showcase your products/services. Platforms such as Wix give you the freedom to spin up a web presence for your business within minutes. Wix offers easy to use drag and drop technology as well as industry-leading SEO, making it easier for customers to find you via Google. They also offer a 14-day free Premium free trial. If wish to avoid integrating e-commerce, simply have customers call, text or email to place an order.
Learn how to sell and market your products/services across social media channels, such as Instagram or Facebook. Billions of people use channels such as Facebook and Instagram every month to connect with friends and family and to discover things that matter. Utilize this time to establish or refine your social selling strategy. Find new customers and build lasting relationships with them.
Want to offer your services virtually? Download a free Zoom, Microsoft Teams or WebEx account. Or for very large audiences utilize a YouTube Live Stream. Platforms such as Zoom allow you to video conference with up to 100 participants at no cost. You can get started within minutes and easily interact with your customers online. If you’d like to charge a fee for attendance, have registrants pay via your Business PayPal account or via e-transfer ahead of time.
Pivot to offering an online course. Teaching an online course is a great way to leverage your skills and earn income at the same time. Platforms such as Teachable allow you to create an online course for free and market it to over 23 million students.
Get creative and utilize online applications that transform traditionally manual tasks, such as Docusign. Docusign offers a 14-day free trail that allows your team to sign documents anywhere from any device, avoiding any in person contact. All documents are encrypted, and a complete audit trail is maintained.
Need a hand going digital? Connect with specialized, affordable talent online. Services such as Upwork allow you to post your job (or task) for free and within hours be connected with specialized talent that can solve your challenge (at an affordable rate). Services range from web and mobile app development to SEO, social media marketing, content writing, graphic design, admin help and thousands of other projects.
Take advantage of free resources that better enable remote operations. Several technology companies have banded together to assist small businesses to operationalize remotely by offering free services.
COVID-19 Business Resources
The Town of BWG is taking many precautions to help protect our residents and businesses during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We are aligning efforts between all levels of government, private sector support agencies, local community organizations and health authorities to ensure a coordinated response.
For complete information on what the Town of BWG is doing please visit: www.townofbwg.com/covid
You can also access information on local partner agencies such as the Bradford Board of Trade and Contact Community Services here.
County of Simcoe Economic Development staff have been working in partnership with all 16 area municipalities to develop and manage a complete list of resources for the business community. For updated information, please visit: edo.simcoe.ca/covid-19-business-resources
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