COVID-19 Information – St. Catharines Tourism

COVID-19 Information


May 23, 2020

  • Earlier this week Shopify announced a number of new products and updates, ranging from business accounts and purchase cards, to retail to shipping, to help merchants navigate the new normal and plan for the future. Among the announcements was a partnering with Facebook, called Facebook Shops, to help businesses create branded storefronts to help deliver unique shopping experiences and enable consumers to browse and purchase without ever leaving the apps.

May 22, 2020

  • Recognizing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses such as the restaurants in the City’s downtown core, St. Catharines City Council voted to waive all fees associated with patios operated seasonally in outdoor areas adjacent to businesses.

    The decision will allow businesses with seasonal patios to be prepared once the Ontario government allows them to reopen. The process to apply for a patio remains the same. Read more here.
  • Venture Niagara has launched the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to support local economy. Businesses in Niagara unable to access existing federal relief measures can now apply for funding under this new initiative. In order to provide targeted assistance to the small towns and communities we serve, Venture
    Niagara will focus on assisting “main street” businesses, such as retail shops, restaurants, corner stores, and businesses of strategic importance to our communities, with loans up to $40,000. 
  • The Ontario Government announced it is investing in Ontario’s first Virtual Action Centre, an online counselling and training portal, to support laid off and unemployed hospitality workers. The province is investing nearly $2 million to open a Virtual Action Centre in partnership with UNITE HERE Local 75. This virtual job training resource will provide up to 7,000 unemployed workers in the hospitality sector with access to a wide range of services and supports online and over the phone, including:
    • Stress management and mental health resources through video conferencing
    • Immediate health and safety online training for workers who return to work at designated quarantined sites
    • Technical skills online training
    • Online training to upgrade English language and digital skills
    • Peer group facilitation and employment preparation through videoconferencing
  • The province is also helping apprentices by providing grants to purchase tools, protective equipment and clothing for their trade, along with forgiving previous loans to purchase tools. The government is providing an Ontario Tools Grant of $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing. This will help new eligible apprentices purchase the equipment they need to start their careers. The funding amounts will be distributed as follows:
    • $1,000 for those in motive power sector trades;
    • $600 for those in construction and industrial sector trades;
    • $400 for those in service sector trades.

      To be eligible for the new grant, apprentices must have:
    • completed level 1 training on or after April 1, 2020
    • an active registered training agreement
    • been registered as an apprentice for at least 12 months
  • The Government of Ontario is making it easier for people to conduct business and practice physical distancing in the new COVID-19 environment. The province is permitting Ontario corporations to conduct virtual meetings and to defer certain annual meetings in specified circumstances and is allowing the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of documents, electronic signatures on documents, and electronic filing of documents.
  • The Canadian Business Resiliency Network and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a toolkit for reopening the Canadian economy with guidance, or access to guidance, for business owners and senior managers responsible for re-establishing their operations while ensuring the health and safety of operators, staff, customers and the general public is at the forefront.

May 19, 2020

  • The Ontario Government announced it will keep Ontario schools closed for the rest of this school year in order to protect the health and safety of students during the COVID-19 outbreak. The government is planning for the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year, the gradual reopening of child care, and the opening of summer day camps subject to the continuing progress in trends of key public health indicators.
  • The Prime Minister also announced the Canada-U.S. border will remain closed for non-essential travel until at least June 21. The border will continue to remain open for commercial traffic and essential workers who cross for work.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses. The CEBA changes will allow more Canadian small businesses to access interest free loans that will help cover operating costs during a period when revenues have been reduced, due to the pandemic. The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses, including:
    – those that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses
    – businesses that rely on contractors,
    – and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.

May 14, 2020

  • St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik announced the City will not be opening Garden City Golf Course or its public boat launches this weekend and is calling on residents to continue to respect health guidelines, such as physical distancing, proper hygiene and avoiding gatherings.
  • Niagara’s Economic Rapid Response Team is asking you take part in its second COVID-19 Business Impact Survey to help us assess its impact on the local economy and plan for recovery. Deadline is May 25. Take the survey here.
  • The Ontario Government announced today a list of additional retailers, seasonal businesses and health and community service providers who will be permitted to open or expand their services on Tuesday, May 19.

    The government also announced that as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, 2020 the following will be able to reopen:
    – Golf courses may open with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out.
    – Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use.
    – Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.
    – Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.

May 13, 2020

  • Sitel is hiring more for than 400 positions at its St. Catharines location in the coming weeks. The leading customer service provider is hiring local positions amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic with enhanced safety measures. Interested applicants can apply online at using the keyword “St. Catharines.” Also, applicants can attend a virtual job fair on Friday, May 15 and Tuesday, May 19 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. by visiting
  • The Ontario government is making the cost of prescription drugs more affordable. Effective today, people using the Ontario Drug Benefit Program will not be required to pay any co-payment until July 1, 2020 for any prescription of 30+ days that is now being dispensed in installments. In addition, existing and new Trillium Drug Program households can apply for an income reassessment to help reduce the financial burden for families during the outbreak.
  • The Ontario Government is working together with the province’s education sector to voluntarily place available employees in staffing roles needed at congregate care settings during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Government of Canada launched a new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) intended to support businesses affected by COVID-19 that have been unable to access other federal assistance measures. The RRRF is being delivered by regional development agencies (RDAs), such as FedDev Ontario, to help more businesses and organizations in sectors across the economy such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and local economies.  A total of $252.4 million will be available for southern Ontario businesses.
  • The Government of Canada announced that the application period for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) will open Friday, May 15, 2020. The CESB will provide $1,250 every four weeks to eligible students, or $2,000 every four weeks to eligible students with disabilities, or those with children or other dependents. The CESB, which will be delivered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), will provide temporary income support to eligible post-secondary students and new graduates who are unable to work or find work this summer due to COVID-19, or are working and are not making over $1,000.
  • The Retail Council of Canada is stepping up for the retail community and is offering its recovery playbooks to all retailers, including non-members. Now available for download here

May 12, 2020

May 11, 2020

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced new measures to support businesses so they can keep their workers on the payroll and weather this pandemic. To help protect Canadian middle class jobs, and safeguard our economy, the Government of Canada will:
    • Establish a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing.
    • Expand the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million. Through the BCAP, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with private sector lenders to support access to capital for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions.
    • Continue to provide financing to businesses through Farm Credit Canada, the BDC, and EDC, including through the Canada Account. This will ensure the government is able to respond to a wide range of financing needs, including for some large employers facing higher risks, with stricter terms in order to adequately protect taxpayers.
  • The Ontario government is opening provincial parks and conservation reserves for limited day-use access. The first areas will open on Monday May 11, 2020, with the remaining areas opening on Friday May 15, 2020. At this time, recreational activities will be limited to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Day visitors will also be able to access all parks and conservation reserves for free until the end of the month.  

May 6, 2020

May 5, 2020

May 1, 2020

  • Through an emergency order passed today, the Ontario Government is taking steps to defer a portion of Global Adjustment (GA) charges for industrial and commercial electricity consumers that do not participate in the Regulated Price Plan for the period starting from April 2020. This initiative is intended to provide companies with temporary immediate relief on their monthly electricity bills in April, May and June 2020. The government intends to keep this emergency order in place until May 31, 2020, and subsequent regulatory amendments would, if approved, provide for the deferral of these charges for June 2020 as well.
  • The Ontario Government is allowing certain businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those permitted to start up include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects. 

    By following the proper health and safety guidelines these businesses will be permitted to begin operations on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m.:
    • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
    • Lawn care and landscaping;
    • Additional essential construction projects that include:
      • shipping and logistics;
      • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
      • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
      • municipal projects;
      • colleges and universities;
      • child care centres;
      • schools; and
      • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;
    • Automatic and self-serve car washes;
    • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
    • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
    • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.  

April 29, 2020

April 27, 2020

  • Today, the Ontario government unveiled its guiding principles for reopening the province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces. The government is planning a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely.

    To reopen the economy, the government will consider factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including:
    – A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
    – Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
    – Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and
    – Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.
  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy opens today. Get started here.

April 26, 2020

April 24, 2020

  • The Ontario government is partnering with the federal government to provide urgent relief for small businesses and landlords affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The province is committing $241 million through the new Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA).
    • The OCECRA will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
    • To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75 per cent and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months.
  • Recognizing the importance of property maintenance, and in response to questions from the community, the City of St. Catharines is providing some clarity about lawn maintenance, landscaping, and construction. Read more here.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an update to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program:
    • The Government of Canada has reached  a deal with all provinces to lower rent by 75 per cent for small and medium-sized businesses for the months of April, May, and June.
    • The government to cover 50 per cent, property owner to cover the rest.
    • Eligible businesses include those that pay less than $50,000 per month. Includes non-profits and charitable organizations.
    • Rent support for larger businesses coming soon.
    • More to come. 

April 22, 2020

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced comprehensive support of nearly $9 billion for post-secondary students and recent graduates. This plan will help provide the financial support they need this summer, help them continue their studies in the fall, and help many get the experience they need to start their careers. These measures include launching:
    • The proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit providing support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020.
    • The new Canada Student Service Grant helping students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic. For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.

  • The Government of Canada will also expand existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming to create up to 116,000 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities to help students find employment and develop valuable skills this summer and over the coming months. In addition, to help students continue their studies in the fall, the government will:
    • Double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.
    • Broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020-21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.
    • Enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.
    • Increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education by providing an additional $75.2 million in 2020-21.
    • Extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows, by providing $291.6 million to the federal granting councils. In addition, the government intends to enhance work opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows through the National Research Council of Canada.

April 20, 2020

  • The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) continues to monitor and provide updates on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and the steps government is taking to address the situation. TIAC, in partnership with Destination Canada, has released a new survey that gathers current impact and collects feedback on recovery issues so they will have a better understand your situation and, together, build the road to recovery. The survey is available until April 23 at 5 p.m.
  • Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff is calling on local tourism operations to participate in stakeholder consultations by completing this online survey to help the provincial government better understand your needs. Information from this survey will be used to inform decision makers on the specific quantitative impact that this pandemic is having on the industry. Please complete each question to the best of your ability. The survey is open until April 30.
  • Health Experts Say the COVID-19 Outbreak Has Likely Peaked in Ontario – The Ontario government today released updated COVID-19 modelling, which shows that the enhanced public health measures, including staying home and physically distancing from each other, are working to contain the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.

    However, the Chief Medical Officer of Health says emergency measures must remain in place to continue reducing the number of cases and deaths.
  • Reminder: While property tax payments are usually due at the end of April, the City of St. Catharines is supporting businesses and residents during the COVID-19 pandemic by deferring the interim tax instalment to June 30 and waiving tax penalty and interest charges until June 30. Learn more about the measures the City is taking to help ease the financial pressures due to the pandemic here (look for the Payments tab).

April 17, 2020

  • The Ontario government has partnered with Rogers Communications and Apple to help meet the educational needs of students and families during the COVID-19 outbreak. iPad is being purchased and distributed by Ontario school boards, pre-equipped with free Rogers LTE wireless data. Apple is providing on-going support in French and English to teachers, parents and students, with a collection of resources to support learning and working from home.
  • The Ontario government expanded the list of essential workers eligible to receive emergency child care to help additional frontline staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. An emergency order was issued which will offer support to those providing a variety of critical services including people who assist vulnerable communities, emergency response and law enforcement sector staff, more health and safety workers, and certain federal employees.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $962 million for regional development agencies and the Community Futures Network to help support small businesses that don’t qualify for the wage subsidy or Canada Emergency Business Account.

  • Trudeau also announced $270 million in funding for Futurpreneur and the Industrial Research Assistance program and $500 million for Heritage Canada to support people working in the arts, culture and sports sectors More to come.

April 16, 2020

  • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced new measures to support Canadian businesses:
    • Expanded the Canada Emergency Business Account to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019.
    • Introduced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses – a program to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June.
  • Niagara Economic Development released the results of the Niagara COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, which represent over 66,000 employees from all sectors of Niagara’s economy. The findings provide an incredibly informative snapshot of the immediate effects of the first few weeks of the pandemic. 

April 15, 2020

  • During his daily address to Canadians this morning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the following changes to Canada Emergency Relief Benefit to expanded it to those earning $1,000 or less, those whose Employment Insurance has run out and to seasonal workers. The Prime Minister also announced essential workers in long term care facilities who make less than $2,500/month will be topped up and the Government of Canda will work with the provinces and territories on this measure. More to come.
  • Alectra announced it will be waiving late payment charges for all residential and small commercial customers, effective today, April 15, for a 60-day period. 

April 14, 2020

  • On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with the approval of the Ontario legislature, the Ontario Government extended the Declaration of Emergency for another 28 days until May 12. This allows Ontario to continue to enforce current emergency orders, such as restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, prohibitions against price-gouging and the closures of:
    • all non-essential workplaces
    • outdoor amenities such as parks and recreational areas
    • public places
    • bars and restaurants

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today during his daily address to Canadians there will be a phased approach to reopening Canada’s economy but it is still weeks away. Cross-border travel restrictions will also remain in place for several weeks.
  • Venture Niagara is making COVID-19 Business Loans available to Niagara businesses to help them get through the early impacts of COVID-19. The Financing ranges between $2,500 and $15,000 and the intent is help businesses cover their essential costs, such as rent and utilities without going too deep into debt. Learn more and apply here.

April 13, 2020

  • To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect health and safety, the Ontario Government has extended all emergency orders put in place to-date until April 23, 2020, including: the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and the prohibition of price gouging.

    The Ontario Government has also included new measures in its emergency orders to address surge capacity in retirement homes, restrict recreational camping on Crown land, and allow the repurposing of existing buildings and temporary structures.

April 9, 2020

April 8, 2020

  • The Government of Canada proposed some changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), with a number of changes to increase flexibility for employers facing hardship. Changes to the eligibility criteria include:
    • To measure their revenue loss, employers will have the flexibility to compare their revenue of March, April and May 2020 to that of the same month of 2019, or employers can choose to compare to an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020.
    • For March, the government will reduce the 30 per cent benchmark to 15 per cent to recognizes many businesses were not affected by the crisis until partway through the month.
    • Employers will be allowed to measure revenues either on the basis of accrual accounting (as they are earned) or cash accounting (as they are received).
    • Registered charities and non-profit organizations will be allowed to choose to include or exclude government funding in their revenue calculations for the purpose of applying the revenue reduction test.
    • Special rules would also be provided to address issues for corporate groups, non-arm’s length entities and joint ventures.
    • To support a simple and smooth rehiring process, the government proposes to refund employer contributions to Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Parental Insurance Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan. 
    • More information here.
  • The Ontario Government announced that stores will be open on Thursday, Saturday and Monday, and will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to give frontline workers a break.
  • Ontario is extending construction hours for essential construction projects, like critical projects in the health care sector, to 24 hours a day. Work on new hospital builds, expansions, and COVID-19 assessment centres will be able to continue any time of the night or day in order to help accelerate the construction of these important projects and enable employers to take additional steps to protect the health and safety of workers on these job sites.
  • Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program that will help employers hire summer staff and provide young Canadians access to the jobs they need during this unprecedented time. This program will help create up to 70,000 jobs for youth between 15 and 30 years of age. The temporary changes to the program for this year include:
    • an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee
    • an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
    • allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services
    • allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis 

April 7, 2020

April 6, 2020

  • The Ontario government is offering direct financial support to parents while Ontario schools and child care centres remain closed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The new Support for Families initiative offers a one-time payment of $200 per child 0 to 12 years of age, and $250 for those 0 to 21 years of age with special needs.
  • Ontario also took additional measures to protect first responders during the COVID-19 outbreak by making an emergency order that will allow police, firefighters and paramedics to obtain COVID-19 positive status information about individuals with whom they are coming into contact. During this pandemic, it is crucial that our first responders have access to this critical information when they are preparing to respond to an emergency in order to protect themselves and the public and help stop the spread of this virus.
  • Applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit opened today. In order to reduce the strain on the online portal Canadians are asked to apply on specific days of the week depending on their birth month.
    • Mondays – January, February, March
    • Tuesdays – April, May, June
    • Wednesdays – July, August, September
    • Thursdays – October, November, December
    • Fridays – Everyone can apply
  • In partnership with the Government of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce established the Canadian Business Resilience Network to help Canadian businesses navigate the COVID-19 reality and prepare for recovery. This new website and a supporting campaign will continue to grow in the weeks and months ahead as we work together to support and protect our businesses, our communities and our economy.

April 3, 2020

  • Following advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, on April 3, 2020, Ontario updated the list of essential businesses that can remain open. The restrictions are aimed at further reducing contact between people and stopping the spread of COVID-19. By 11:59 p.m. Saturday, April 4, 2020, businesses that are not identified on this list must close their physical locations.
  • Niagara Region and Niagara’s 12 local area municipalities have jointly declared a State of Emergency. Declaring an emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act provides Niagara with all options available to protect the health and safety of Niagara residents.
  • The Ontario Government has launched a new user-friendly online portal for the public to easily access their COVID-19 lab test results. By offering faster and secure access to test results on their computer or mobile device, this portal will help ease pressures on public health units and frontline workers to provide this information so that they can better focus on containing COVID-19.
  • To support public health units’ extensive efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, Ontario is taking further action to redirect existing resources while allowing for public health units to considerably increase their capacity. Ontario is issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, effective immediately, to provide public health units the authority and flexibility they need to make staffing decisions that support their ongoing fight against the outbreak of COVID-19, despite any collective agreements. As a result, public health units will be able to significantly expand their capacity to implement critical public health functions, such as case and contact management, through the use of volunteers, including the thousands of retired nurses and medical students who have signed up through the province’s website.

April 2, 2020

The Tourism Association of Ontario (TIAO) released its third COVID-19 industry survey. It’s important to participate as it helps TIAO build the most comprehensive picture of the very latest developments on the front-line. The survey closes Monday, April 6 at 8 a.m.

  • Two special workshops are coming up Monday, April 6 for small business owners:
    • How to Manage Your Finances and Cash Flow During this Covid-19 Crisis
      April, 9-10:30 a.m.
      The world just changed rapidly, leaving many uncertain of how they are going to survive the economic impact of Covid-19. Enterprise Toronto is hosting free webinars with Andrew Patricio of Bizlaunch on how the small business owner can manage their finances during this crisis. Register here.
    • Your COVID-19 Employment Questions Answered:
      April 6, 2-3:30 p.m.
      With the spread of COVID-19 and the partial, temporary and full closures of many businesses, we know that small business owners have questions about how to deal with their employees. Join Stephen Wolpert and Marc Kitay, partners at award-winning employment law boutique Whitten & Lublin for a session to answer questions like:

      -Am I allowed to lay my staff off during this emergency?
      -What are the consequences of doing so?
      -What if I can’t afford to rehire them when the emergency ends?
      -Are my employees eligible for employment insurance or wage subsidies?
      -If I am the owner but I am on payroll, am I eligible?
      -What steps can I take to protect myself from claims by my employees?

      Register here.
  • Ontario increased mental health support during COVID-19 with additional resources improving access to online and virtual supports.
  • The Ontario Government called on all business owners to support truck drivers when they are stopping to rest, get gas or use washrooms.
  • To enhance safety and mitigate the financial burden placed on families during this time, all patients, staff and physicians now have free parking at all Niagara Health sites. This temporary measure will continue until further notice. Niagara Health made the desiciosn to:
    • Help increase safety at Niagara Health.
    • Recognize the financial hardship that many in the community are facing at this time.
    • Support the dedicated team at Niagara Health who are going above and beyond each day to provide extraordinary patient care during this pandemic.
  • Check out the new Canada COVID-19 Support App for the the latest national updates, trusted resources, and a tool to self-assess your symptoms. Download from your device’s app store. 

April 1, 2020

  • Google committed $800+ million to support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organizations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic.
  • The Government of Canada announced more details about the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to help employers keep people working.
    • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week.
    • The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
    • Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
    • Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
    • For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
    • An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
  • The Government of Canada announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is set to Launch on April 6. The CERB will support Canadians who have lost their income because of COVID-19 by providing $2,000 a month for up to 4 months. Some examples of support to workers provided by the CERB include:
    • Workers, including those who are self-employed, who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
    • Workers who lost their employment, as well as workers who are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
    • Working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.

More details here.

March 31, 2020

  • The Ontario Government extended school and child care closures to fight spread of COVID-19. Public schools will remain closed to teachers until Friday, May 1, 2020, and to students until Monday, May 4, 2020.
  • Justin Trudeau has announced that the federal government is spending $2 billion to procure personal protective equipment for front-line workers. More to come.
  • The Ontario Government eased the financial burden on students and helped ensure they can complete their studies during the COVID-19 outbreak by temporarily deferring payments for Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans and making online learning supports, including year-end exams, available to post-secondary institutions.
  • In an effort to stop the spread of #COVID19 the Ontario Government has closed all outdoor recreational amenities across province.

March 30, 2020

  • Niagara Health put out a call for new N95 masks, surgical masks and other protective equipment. Email if you can donate. Learn more at: .
  • The Ontario government is working with businesses, volunteer organizations and non-profits to make it easier for Ontario’s seniors to self-isolate and practice physical distancing during this unprecedented time by ensuring they can receive the support they need to stay safe and healthy. The government is investing $10 million to help community organizations with the coordination of subsidized deliveries of meals, medicines and other necessities to seniors.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that businesses and non-profit organizations that see at least 30 per cent decrease in revenue due to COVID-19 will qualify for the Government of Canada’s 75 per cent wage subsidy program.
    • Number of employees doesn’t matter
    • Non-profits and charities, big and small, are eligible
    • Covers up to 75 per cent on the first $58,700 earned, up to $847 per week
    • Back dated to March 15, 2020
    • More to come

March 28, 2020

  • Premier Doug Ford announces new penalties to combat price gouging and hold offenders accountable for raising prices significantly on the necessary goods Ontarians need to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19.
  • The Ontario Government has announced they are limiting gatherings to no more than 5 people. Essential business, child care facilities, and families of more than 5 people are exempt. Previously, the rule was no more than 50 people.

March 27, 2020 – 7:45 p.m.
Relief from the City of St. Catharines – Today, St. Catharines City Council approved a series of measures aimed at supporting residents and businesses with the costs of municipal taxes and services as they wrestle with the financial pressures due to the COVID-19. Some of the measures The City is offering include:

  • Deferring the April 30 interim tax instalment to June 30
  • Waiving tax penalty and interest charges until June 30
  • Waiving water and wastewater penalty and interest charges until June 30
  • Waiving accounts receivable penalty and interest charges until June 30
  • Waiving charges for any cheques or pre-authorized payments returned for non-sufficient funds or payments stopped by the payer
  • Amending the 2020 final tax levy instalment dates to July 31 and October 30
  • Deferring the 2020 water and wastewater increase from April 1 to July 1

COVID-19 Economic Response Plan Update – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced additional new measures supporting small businesses dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic to help protect jobs and pay their workers and bills during these difficult times. Part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the program includes offering qualifying small and medium businesses 75 per cent of wages to be covered, and $40,000 loans interest free, GST / HST payment deferrals until June and more. 

Announcements from Minister Lisa MacLeod – On March 26, Minister Lisa MacLeod hosted an industry stakeholder tele-town hall conference call and announced the following initiatives:

  • Re-purposing the Tourism Development Fund to the Tourism Development and Recovery Fund and increasing the fund from $500,000 to $1.5 million.
  • Working with industry partners on an online marketplace and town centre for all Ontarians to access concerts, art, digital gallery and museum tours and attraction prepurchases. The province’s initial investment of $150,000 will match community contributions to give musicians a platform to do concerts from the safety of their homes.
  • Destination Ontario is actively working on a marketing program that will let the world know that when they are ready to travel and when we are a safe environment to accept them back, we will be ready.
  • The government will be allowing all licensed restaurants, bars and pubs to sell and deliver unopened alcohol at their establishments.
  • Provided lists of hotels to MOH, MOLTC and MCCSS to be used in the event hospitals, LTC’s, VAW Centres need capacity due to social distancing. Yesterday’s economic statement earmarked $341 Million if this is required.
  • Revised film and tv industry regulations to allow contract and freelance workers to receive Ontario’s three refundable film and TV tax credits while at the same time working to streamline the time it takes to complete them.
  • For our emerging artists, the $7 million Ontario Music Fund is being retooled to get more money into their hands immediately during this crisis.
  • Each year the province invests $10 million into athletes through Quest for Gold and Sport Hosting events. Despite these postponements and cancellations this money will still be available.
  • Celebrate, OAC, OCAF or Trillium Grant will flow even if events are forced to cancel. The province will invest almost $200 Million in 2020.
  • Local libraries, community museums and our governments agencies and attractions will see their money flow very quickly so when it is safe to do so, they can open their doors again to the public.

March 26,2020
PickUpSTC – We are working on an online directory people can go to see what’s open and what services, such as take out and / or delivery, are available. Use this online form to tell us your status and details.

Bars and restaurants – The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced a number of temporary measures to support Ontarians and businesses impacted by the spread of COVID-19, including allowing licensed restaurants and bars in Ontario to sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Tourism St. Catharines continues to monitor and communicate important information regarding the unprecedented and rapidly changing landscape of COVID-19. We are working with industry partners and all levels of government to ensure health and safety of our guests and community.

In the days and weeks ahead we will continue to:

  • Provide exceptional service to ensure a positive ongoing customer experience.
  • Share information through our digital and social channels about how our tourism partners in St. Catharines are adapting in order to continue serving you.
  • Distribute important COVID-19 updates in a timely manner.

Niagara COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

How is COVID-19 affecting your business? Niagara’s Economic Rapid Response Team needs your input as we gather data to send directly to the provincial and federal governments. Take the survey here.


For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19:

St. Catharines Tourism Rapid Response Team

We are at the ready to address the impacts of COVID-19 on community, answering your calls and emails and working with our stakeholders and partners. Supporting our local businesses has never carried more meaning and impact than it does now. If you have any questions or need our support, please contact us:

Karen Doyle
Tourism Marketing Officer
905.688.5601 ext. 1733

Karen Doyle, Tourism Marketing Officer

Rob Lapensee
Marketing Coordinator
905.688.5601 ext. 1731

Rob Lapensee, Marketing Coordinator