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April 7, 2021 - Ontario Enacts Provincial Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order - Effective Thursday, April 8th at 12:01 am
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a third provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). These measures are being taken in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province's hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants.
Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise , or for work that cannot be done remotely. As Ontario's health care capacity is threatened, the Stay-at-Home order, and other new and existing public health and workplace safety measures will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations, allow for progress to be made with vaccinations and save lives.
In addition, the province is also strengthening public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake. Measures include, but are not limited to:
- Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions;
- Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions;
- Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
- Permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.:
- Safety supply stores;
- Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
- Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
- Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
- Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
- Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
- Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
- Permitting outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, to operate with a 25 per cent capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
These additional and strengthened public health and workplace safety measures will be in effect as of Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is imposing a provincewide emergency brake as a result of an alarming surge in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province. The provincewide emergency brake will be effective Saturday, April 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and the government intends to keep this in place for at least four weeks.
Based on a general improvement in trends of key indicators, the York Public Health Region will transition out of the shutdown and into the revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open at the Red-Control level and will no longer be subject to the Stay-at-Home order. These changes will come into effect on Monday, February 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
After returning to the Framework, public health regions are required to stay in their level for at least two weeks. The government will then assess the impact of public health and workplace safety measures to determine if the region should stay where it is or be moved to a different level. Public health regions may be moved to a higher level within the two-week window, if necessary, based on the set indicators and thresholds outlined in the Framework. In addition, Ontario has introduced an "emergency brake" to allow the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, to immediately advise moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.
The Ontario government is moving to a regional approach in the fight against COVID-19. For York Region and most regions, the shutdown and Stay-at-Home order will be maintained as well as all existing public health and workplace safety measures. As local trends of key public health indicators improve, regions will be gradually transitioned back into the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, with some new and modified measures in place. York Region is expected to return to the Framework on February 22, 2021. The specific colour-coded zone will be determined at that time. The date may change depending on the trends and local public health indicators.
Through HASCAP, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with participating Canadian financial institutions to offer government-guaranteed, low-interest loans of up to $1 million.
HASCAP is available to businesses across the country, in all sectors, that have been hit hard by the pandemic. This includes restaurants, businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors, and those that rely on in-person service. Businesses with multiple locations under one related entity, could be eligible for up to $6.25 million. HASCAP will help businesses with their day-to-day operating costs during the COVID-19 crisis and enable them to invest in their longer-term prosperity.
Eligible businesses can start applying as early as February 1 at principal financial institutions and more widely by February 15. Interested businesses should contact their primary lender to get more information and to apply.
The government announced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant on December 21st, 2020, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help navigate this challenging period.
Starting at $10,000 for all eligible businesses, the grant will provide businesses with dollar for dollar funding to a maximum of $20,000 to help cover decreased revenue expected as a result of the Province wide Shutdown. The business must demonstrate they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent when comparing monthly revenue in April 2019 and April 2020.
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.
In response to the alarming and exceptional circumstances at hand, and to further interrupt the deadly trend of transmission in Ontario communities, hospitals, and long-term care homes, the government will enact the following additional public health measures:
- Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
- Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can't physically distance more than two metres.
- All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
- Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
These measures will come into effect between Tuesday January 12, 2021 and Thursday, January 14, 2021, including the provincial declaration of emergency under the EMCPA, orders under that Act, and amendments to regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.
The government is announcing the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help navigate this challenging period.
Small businesses required to close or restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for this one-time grant.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
- Are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the Provincewide Shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020;
- Have less than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
- Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
Starting at $10,000 for all eligible businesses, the grant will provide businesses with dollar for dollar funding to a maximum of $20,000 to help cover decreased revenue expected as a result of the Provincewide Shutdown. The business must demonstrate they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent when comparing monthly revenue in April 2019 and April 2020. This time period was selected because it reflects the impact of the public health measures in spring 2020, and as such provides a representation of the possible impact of these latest measures on small businesses.
Essential businesses that are allowed to remain open will not be eligible for this grant. More information about the Ontario Small Business Support Grant is available here.
Businesses that are impacted by the Provincewide Shutdown will also be eligible for the property tax and energy cost rebates. In November, the government launched a program to provide rebates to offset fixed costs such as property tax and energy bills for businesses that are required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures. These Ontario Small Business Support Grant rebates will continue to be available for businesses impacted by the Provincewide Shutdown and earlier restrictions. Business can apply for the rebates here.
These steps are being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open in the regions where in-class learning is permitted, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province's most vulnerable populations. The regional levels and specific public health measures are set out in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.
Additional permanent reforms for the hospitality sector will allow:
- reduced minimum pricing of spirits consumed on-site, to align with the reduced pricing introduced for takeout and delivery orders;
- the length of time for temporary patio extensions to be set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO); and,
- for a requirement that ensures third parties delivering from licensed restaurants and bars have a delivery licence.
Inspections carried out indicate most businesses and customers across York Region are adhering to COVID-19 safety measures and protocols. However, there were 8 charges laid against residents and businesses as of 3 p.m. on Friday. None of those businesses are located in King Township.
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table, the Ontario government has updated the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, by lowering the thresholds for each level in the framework.
The outcome of this update is that York Region will be classified as Red-Control effective 12:01AM Monday November 16.
The following public health safety measures are in place for York Region:
General Safety Measures - Applicable to gatherings, workplace requirements and face coverings:
- Physical distancing to be maintained for all events and gatherings with individuals outside of one’s household
- Workplaces are required to screen
- Face coverings are required in all public spaces (with limited exemptions) including indoor workplaces
- Worker protections, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks and eye protection, are required where patrons without face coverings are within 2 metres of workers (indoors and in the absence of a Plexiglas or some other impermeable barrier)
- Advice to restrict non-essential travel from areas of high transmission to areas of low transmission
- Development and implementation of a communication/public education plan highlighting risk
Gathering Limits for all organized public events and social gatherings:
- 10 people indoors
- 25 people outdoors
Gathering limit for religious service, rite or ceremony, including wedding ceremonies and funeral services, if the gathering is held in a building or structure other than a private dwelling:
- 30% capacity indoors with physical distancing in place
- 100 people outdoors
An indoor event or gathering cannot be combined with an outdoor event or gathering so as to increase the limit of people attending
The Ontario government is proposing to give municipalities the flexibility to target property tax relief to small businesses. The province is also considering matching these reductions, which would provide small businesses with as much as $385 million in municipal and provincial property tax relief. This initiative is part of the 2020 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.
Through the 2020 Budget, the government also announced that it will lower Business Education Tax (BET) rates for over 200,000 employers, or 94 per cent of all business properties in Ontario, starting January 1, 2021. This will create $450 million in immediate annual savings and represents a reduction of 30 per cent for many businesses.
Property tax rates will be reduced to 0.88 per cent. For many employers, this represents a reduction of 30 per cent if the local government applies a 30 per cent discount with the proposed new small business property subclass.
Taken together, these property tax measures could mean a business like a bakery shop could receive $5,000 in municipal tax relief and $4,000 in provincial property tax relief if the local government applies a 30 per cent discount with the proposed new small business property subclass. Combined with a $1,500 BET reduction, this bakery shop owner would receive a total of $10,500 in property tax savings in 2021.
The framework 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.
To provide the utmost transparency, each public health unit will be classified according to current framework indicators. York Region's proposed classifications based on data for the week of October 26, 2020 is Orange - Restrict.
This will be confirmed by the province on Friday, November 6, 2020 and become effective on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Final decisions on moving public health unit regions into the framework will be made by the government based on updated data and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and other health experts, and will be reviewed weekly.
Going forward, the government will continually assess the impact of public health measures applied to public health unit regions for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods.
Beginning November 16, 2020, eligible businesses in Orange and Red classified public health units will be able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal.
Types of businesses that are eligible for support include:
- restaurants and bars
- gyms, facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities
- performing arts and cinemas
- bingo halls, gaming establishments, casinos, conference centres and convention centres
- community centres, multi-purpose facilities, and museums
- personal care services (with exception of oxygen bars)
- racing venues
- meeting or event space
- in-person teaching and instruction
The Ontario government has announced that effective Monday, October 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.York Region will be subject to modified Stage 2 restrictions for a minimum of 28 days and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
Measures under this modified Stage 2 include:
- Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
- Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
- Closing of:
- Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
- Indoor cinemas, performing arts centres and venues, (except for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted performance subject to conditions, including no spectators);
- Spectator areas in racing venues;
- Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.;
- Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming);
- Prohibiting real estate open houses (permitting in-person showing by appointments only)
- Reducing the capacity limits for:
- Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
- In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with certain exemptions, including for schools, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
- Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors with limited exemptions, including for government operations and the delivery of government services; and
- Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).
Government announces new, targeted support to help businesses through pandemic. The government plans to introduce legislation to provide the following support:
- The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 to both tenants and property owners
- A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy.
- The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021
- An expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which would enable businesses, and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans—and that continue to be seriously impacted by the pandemic—to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022.
Ontario Supports Small Main Street Businesses with $60 Million in Funding through PPE Grant. The plan includes a one-time grant of up to $1,000 for eligible small businesses — in retail, food and accommodations, and other service sectors — with two to nine employees to help offset the unexpected costs of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The September extension for CECRA is now available. It is based on the existing program parameters for the April, May and June period. No new documents are needed to opt-in. New applicants can apply for up to 5 months of rent assistance (from April through August) all at once. Once the initial application is pre‑approved, a property owner can opt-in for September. This is the final extension of the program.
Rent relief for Canadian small business through CECRA has been extended for September. New applicants can apply for up to 6 months of rent assistance (from April through September) all at once.
The Government of Ontario is providing $8 million to support small business and registered charity customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.
The COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) provides a one time, on-bill credit to eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments. Small business and registered charity customers may be eligible for up to $850 in support towards their electricity bill if they primarily use electricity for heating, or up to $425 otherwise. Small business and registered charity customers could also be eligible for up to $425 in support towards their natural gas bill.
You must apply for CEAP-SB through your utility or USMP. Contact your utility or USMP directly as each may have a unique approach for application in-take.
Government announces greater flexibility and extension of Canada Emergency Business Account. CEBA application deadline extended to October 31, 2020. BCAP application deadline extended to June 2021.
The following significant financial assistance announcements were made on August 20:
- CERB has been extended by an additional 4 weeks to a maximum of 28 weeks
- EI eligibility has been expanded
- 3 new benefits have been announced to aid recovery, including benefits for those who have contracted COVID-19 and their caregiver