A Time of Uncertainty
We are clearly in uncharted territory with COVID-19, and we hope you are all taking the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your families safe. The priority is the health and safety of everyone in the community, and following the advice of the health professionals to prevent the spread of the virus. Below are some resources that may be helpful to your business in these challenging times.
Due to the quickly changing situation taking place in response to the virus, the forms of support available can be confusing to follow. For a business in the Acton BIA area, or an Acton resident, it can be simplified to a couple major web pages.
The Government of Canada.
Our Federal Government is responsible for administering most direct financial support for businesses and individuals in need. The $2000 a month wage program (CERB), Employment Insurance (EI), the various rent and wage subsidies are all coming from there. These are programs Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is announcing. To access this information, go to the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 support page HERE.
The Province of Ontario.
Most other major updates regarding the COVID-19 situation are coming from the Provinces. Most of these – like the cancelling of schools and the “List of Essential Workplaces” – have significant impacts but aren’t programs that businesses can necessarily apply for. The Province is directly responsible for the health units dealing with the virus on a day-to-day basis. They are temporarily reducing hydro costs and deferring WSIB and other taxes but many of these benefits don’t require any sign up. For more information on what the Province is doing to combat the virus, go to the Province’s COVID-19 page for businesses HERE.
The Region of Halton.
Halton Region’s Public Health Unit is keeping track of local cases. For this information, go HERE.
The Town of Halton Hills.
Responsible for Economic Development, the Town of Halton Hills is providing direct hands-on support to businesses that need help. The Town is also deferring property taxes and closing most municipal facilities – including parks and arenas – to minimize the spread of the virus at this time. Learn more on their business-centered website HERE. They also have a public website with more general information HERE.
The Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber has done a great job positioning their website during this time for businesses to share information. All you have to do is full out a short survey about what services you provide and your hours. They are also offering multiply webinars to support business every week, typically on Tuesday and Thursday. These are great resources. For more information, go HERE.
Local Media Outlets Operating During this Time.
Is it Open?
This is a common question we’re hearing at this time. Many businesses are open, but operating at less capacity than normal. Many others are closed. And, unfortunately, a lot of these businesses aren’t keeping up with their online presence so it can be tough to tell changes in Hours of Operation or of services.
That being said, the best way to find if a business is still open is to look online (particularly on social media like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, if you have them) or to give them a call directly. If, for whatever reason, you can’t get a response that way, go by the business while you are out running other errands if they have something you really need.
About 80% of businesses in Downtown Acton are currently closed. The other 20% are, for the most part, using a variety of different measures to ensure the safety of staff and customers, including using one-way systems, limiting the number of people coming into the business and operating with reduced hours.
As a rule of thumb, it if is:
- A restaurant.
- A place that sells some sort of food.
- A place that sells alcohol.
They are open, but perhaps operating with limited hours. Look for their phone number online and see if you can call them. If you are going out anyways to run errands, see if they are open. Some places are busier than others and you might experience lines outside of a business to control the number of people coming in.
Most businesses that are considered Essential Workplaces by the Province are still open, or at least offering curb-side pick up or delivery. The list of Essential Workplaces is HERE.
What is the Acton BIA doing?
The Acton BIA is continuing to do what we normally do, for the most part. This includes:
- Driving on-going cooperation and communication among members of the business community and the Town.
- Advocating membership interests and concerns with municipal and other levels of government.
- Providing increased cost savings through improved integration of capital funding and promotional activities.
- Increasing community interest and pride through our community festivals and events programming.
Practically, we’re talking with the Town of Halton Hills several days a week to stay updated with current developments and to let them know what’s happening on our main street. We’re brainstorming and planning ways to keep community spirit up – now and for the future. We’re staying in contact with businesses to see what they’re doing and to see if we can help CONTACT US.
This will end and, when it does, we’ll be leading the charge to encourage residents to visit their downtown. In the meantime, we’re encouraging residents to safely visit Downtown. If you’re ill, stay inside. Rest up. You’ll get better and we’ll see you when that happens. But if you’re well, consider getting takeout. Take some pressure off our major grocery stores. Restaurants are taking lots of precautions to make sure they are disinfecting everything and to maintain proper distancing.
And if you’re just going for a walk for some exercise, consider dropping by our downtown. It is our downtown. It is a place for us to support and enjoy and it needs us to give it some love or we’ll lose it, or parts of it. And that would be a tragedy.
“When This is Over, I’ll Get Takeout”
Look, if you don’t feel comfortable leaving your house at this time, that’s ok. And it’s understandable. Be safe and look after yourself and your loved ones.
That being said, the restaurants and businesses that are open are looking for people like you to buy their food or services. They need support now. And they’re hurting.
If you feel comfortable, consider getting take out, doing curbside pickup or having someone deliver. A little goes a long way in supporting our community and ensuring it’s there for us now and into the future.
That being said, a lot of people are financially struggling and watching every penny. If that’s you, that’s ok as well. You’re not in a position to buy takeout at this time. That’s alright. We’ll get through this together.
We Want to Hear from You
We, at the Acton BIA, are still working during this time and are happy to talk. If you want to reach out to us for guidance or just to bounce ideas around, consider calling us at our office (519-853-9555) or on our Coordinator’s cell phone (289-890-1942). Email is also a great – email@example.com.
Look forward to hearing from you soon.
- May 19 – Prime Minister Announces Expansion of Support for Workers and Small Businesses. LEARN MORE HERE.
- May 19 – Ontario’s first stage of reopening begins. LEARN MORE HERE.
- May 16 – Golf courses will be able to 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. LEARN MORE HERE.
- May 11 – Starting today, more people will be returning to work across the province as the Ontario government allows retail stores with a street entrance to offer curbside pickup and delivery. Over the weekend, garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores began offering in-store purchasing. All retailers should follow available safety guidelines in order to protect staff, consumers and the general public during the COVID-19 outbreak. LEARN MORE HERE.
- May 6 – The Province eases restrictions on certain industries, including retail stores with a street entrance as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores. LEARN MORE HERE.
- April 27 – The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy opens, allowing businesses to cover up to 75% of employees wages. LEARN MORE HERE.
- April 24 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces rent relief of up to 75% for qualifying small businesses. LEARN MORE HERE.
- April 16 – Important changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) in helping business maintain payroll and new updates on rent relief. LEARN MORE HERE.
- April 15 – Updates to to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit allowing students and those working partial hours to be supported. LEARN MORE HERE.
- April 3 – More details released on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which will provide a payment of $2,000 for anyone who has lost their employment, or self-employment due to COVID-19. LEARN MORE HERE.
- March 30 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clarified his previous announcement regarding the wage subsidies, stating that only businesses who have lost 30% or more of revenue due to COVID-19 would qualify. The number of people employed by the business will not be a factor. LEARN MORE HERE.
- March 27 – The Government of Canada will be subsidizing wages for qualifying small and medium-sized business for up to 75% of wage costs, backdated to March 15, 2020. There will also be a $40,000 loan available to small businesses from banks. The loan will be guaranteed by the government, and will be interest-free for the first 12 months, with up to $10,000 of the principal being forgiven. Businesses can also delay GST and HST payments until June. LEARN MORE HERE.
- The Region of Halton passed a resolution to not collect regional taxes until the end of June. The Town of Halton Hills is in turn offering temporary relief for taxpayers by removing all penalties and fees for those who need to defer payment. The grace period will run from April 1 to June 30. LEARN MORE HERE.
- The Ontario Government has announced additional support for employers and the general public. This includes five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payment for the majority of provincially administered taxes; allowing employers to defer WSIB payments for up to six months; cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption. It also includes a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs; as well as a deferment of the upcoming June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, which will provide the municipalities with the flexibility to provide property tax deferrals. LEARN MORE HERE.
- March 13 – The Government of Canada announced the establishment of a Business Credit Availabilty Program (BCAP) to help Canadian business obtain financing. Businesses seeking support through BCAP should contact the financial institutions with whom they have a pre-existing relationship. LEARN MORE HERE.
- Canadian government support for small businesses. LEARN MORE HERE.
- Government of Ontario providing electricity relief to small businesses. LEARN MORE HERE.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the House of Commons has passed another emergency bill. This new bill will provide $2,000 a month for the next four months to people who are not working due to COVID-19, regardless of whether they are unwell. An online portal will be made available to submit applications, with people receiving money within 10 days of applying. The communicated timeline is that the portal will be available by April 6, 2020. LEARN MORE HERE.
- Canadian government announces $82 billion in COVID-19 support. Includes income supports, temporary wage subsidies and tax deferrals. LEARN MORE HERE.
- CRA extends deadline for filing personal taxes from April 30 to June 1. The deadline to paying off any outstanding balances interest-free has also been extended to August 31. Businesses will also have more time to file their taxes without paying any interest or penalties. The new deadline will be August 31 to file any corporate taxes and make any scheduled instalment payments. LEARN MORE HERE.
- The Federal Government has waived the one week waiting period for Employment Insurance due to sickness benefits. From an employer’s perspective, you have 5 days to issue the Record of Employment. LEARN MORE HERE.
- Banks promise mortgage help for Canadians. This includes up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. LEARN MORE HERE.
- Access to COVID-19 Preparedness toolkit for Ontario businesses. LEARN MORE HERE.
- Town of Halton Hills COVID-19 business support updates. LEARN MORE HERE.
- The Halton Hills Chamber of Commers COVID-19 informational page for businesses. LEARN MORE HERE.
- Letter from the Ontario BIA Association to the Prime Minister. LEARN MORE HERE.
We will make sure to keep you updated with any relevant information as things develop. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the BIA if you have any questions regarding this pandemic by calling the office (519) 853 9555, or via email to Alex Hilson (firstname.lastname@example.org). We understand and respect the tough decisions our members are making, whether to temporarily close shop or reduce services. We are here for you, and we will get through this together!
This page created with thanks to the Downtown Georgetown BIA, the Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Halton Hills.