We have created this page as a resource, tool and a source of information directly from the Sparks Street BIA. This has been a planned project that was fast-tracked due to the COVID-19 pandemic with constant information being released daily.
Thank you for your cooperation and please e-mail if there is something not yet addressed here. We will work together to overcome this pandemic and all it entails in the coming days.
Tuesday, March 31
Federal and Provincial Economic Updates
The link above will take you to the Government of Canada’s main page outlining the financial support they are providing to individuals and businesses. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to apply for more than one. As more details are announced and the links to apply are activated, you will find them here. Here are the latest business oriented points from the Government of Canada:
To further support small businesses, the Government of Canada will:
Announce a 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month. (It has been announce that the 75-per-cent wage subsidy is meant to help employers that can show their revenues have fallen by at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19. It will be capped at $847 a week, backdated to March 15, and the number of workers a company or other organization employs won’t be a factor. As with many programs announced, the details may change between now and April 7th when it is expected to go online)
Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country.
Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses. These loans – guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada – will ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need, at a zero per cent interest rate, so they can pay for rent and other important costs over the next number of months.
Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements
The Government has released the March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update.
Through this update, the government has announced that the property tax reassessment which was scheduled to be conducted in 2020 for the 2021 tax year will be postponed. This is intended to provide stability for Ontario’s property taxpayers and municipalities, and will enable municipal governments to focus their attention on critical public health initiatives and other efforts to manage the local response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The government also announced that it is deferring the property tax payments municipalities make to school boards by 90 days. Deferring the June 30th quarterly remittance to school boards by 90 days will provide municipalities with the flexibility to, in turn, provide over $1.8 billion in property tax deferrals to residents and businesses.
Renamed the Tourism Development Fund to the Tourism Development and Recovery Fund and increased 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 pre-purchases, with an initial investment of $150,000 to 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.
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.
For our Film and TV industry we are revising 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, they are retooling our $7 Million Ontario Music Fund to get more money into hands immediately during this crisis.
Olympics have been postponed and many of sport hosting events have been cancelled. Each year the Province invests $10 Million into our 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 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
Monday, March 30
Property Tax Deferral and Mayor's message for Rent Support
Please find below the press release sent by the city regarding the Property tax deferral. The Mayor has also sent out a message to property owners and business owners asking them to work together on rent support
City launches application for property tax relief
for those financially impacted by COVID-19
Ottawa – The City has now implemented an interim property tax payment grace period and a new 2020 Property Tax Hardship Deferral Plan to help many residents and businesses who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grace period for interim property tax payment
With the interim property taxes mailed out in mid-February, the City extended a grace period to Wednesday, April 15, with no late payment applied between the original March 19 deadline and the new date for those unable to make payment by the due date. The interim property tax bill covers 50 per cent of the entire property tax bill.
New 2020 Interim Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program
The City has also established a 2020 Interim Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program for qualifying residents, as well as businesses that have an assessed property value of up to $7.5 million – which captures 91 per cent of all commercial properties in Ottawa. The program extends both the interim property tax deadline (March 19) and the final property tax deadline (June 18) to Friday, October 30, 2020.
To qualify, your account would need to have been paid up to date before the interim tax installment. The application deadline is July 31, 2020.
View, Print and Payment options
Ottawa residents can sign up for paperless billing for property tax and water bills. This is a secure website where you can manage, view, print and pay your bills online. It is free to set up, easy to use and provides residents access to their account information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visit ottawa.ca for more information.
Residents have several payment options for property tax and water bills that can be done from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Telephone and online banking through their financial institution
Debit or credit payment online at ottawa.ca
Friday, March 27
COVID-19 Financial Support Update
The Federal government has just announced that they are boosting the wage subsidy for small- and medium-sized businesses, boosting it to 75 per cent. They have also announced a one year $40,000 interest free loan for businesses.
More details are coming out over the weekend into Monday. When more details of these programs become available, we will share them.
We have also launched the new Sparks Street Online Shop.
There are still a number of Sparks Street e-Commerce Program grants available for merchants to apply for. I encourage you to do so if you believe this will work for your business.
Monday, March 23
Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program
The Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program will allow member merchants to apply for one of two grants:
A Starting-up Grant (maximum of $1000) for a Sparks Street member that wishes to establish an online store on a platform such as Shopify. It would allow our merchants to sell products and gift cards/certificates to people during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant can be used to pay for tech support, subscription fees, marketing, etc.
If you already have an online store, you can apply for a Marketing Grant up to a maximum of $1000 to specifically promote your e-store.
You must apply and have your application approved before you can receive any funds. Grants will be issued after you submit an invoice(s) to us outlining your expenses.
To apply, please click on this link and fill out the Sparks Street e-Commerce Grant Program Form. There are up to 30 grants available.
Once your store is online (or if it already is), we will include you on the Sparks Street Online Shop which we will begin to promote. This is currently a mock up and not fully functional.
List of Essential Workplaces
On Monday, March 23, the province of Ontario announce the closing of non-essential workplaces. To find out if you are still allowed to open, click on this link of Essential Workplaces.
The province has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province's recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
The province has issued an emergency order to close at-risk workplaces and encourage non-essential businesses to find ways to help their employees work from home. The government also reminded businesses to put in place protocols for physical distancing and regular hand-washing in order to protect the health and safety of employees and the general public.
Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m.―5:00 p.m.
Friday, March 20
As we all respond to COVID-19, it is important that we provide feedback on the support programs that have been quickly created. Below you will find the links to two surveys; one from the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) and one from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO). Please take a few minutes to fill them out to provide these organizations with the information they need to support us. The surveys will be active until Monday, Mar 23
Wednesday, March 18
Federal Government Economic Response Plan
The Federal Government announced their program to support Canadians and businesses today with a number of programs. Click Here for Details
Property Tax Deferral
City of Ottawa has announce it is providing property owners more time to pay their interim property tax bills. I have attached the memo from city staff to the Mayor and council.
The interim tax bill is normally due on the third Thursday in March (tomorrow). The program has to be formally approved by full city council which meets next Wednesday, March 25. . If approved, the deferral application will be available online and would extend the interim (March 19) and final (June 18) tax due dates to October 30, 2020. The motion will define the criteria of property owner eligibility.
Mayor Jim Watson tweeted that he hopes landlords use the extra cash flow to help their tenants.
Tuesday, March 17
The Province of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has come out with an updated recommendation with respect to the business community. Ottawa Public Health has accepted the recommendation from the Province that all bars, theatres and entertainment venues should close temporarily, and that restaurants limit their operations to take-out and delivery as of March 18.
Some businesses have been wondering if the insurance will cover them during this event. As these policies can vary, it is recommended that you contact your insurance company and review your policy.
Tuesday, March 17
Personal and Business Asset Protection Checklist
Keep the lights on
Remove ALL cash and receipts
Do not leave any valuable clearly visible or accessible
All safes and till should be emptied and moved off-site for safe storage
Keep all cash drawers open to show that nothing is in the drawers
All ATM's should be emptied and moved off-site for safe storage
All alcohol products removed from the bar and put in secured storage areas (No alcohol should be visible from the outside)
Consider posting "NO CASH OR VALUABLE ON PREMISES" signage
Deactivate all scheduled FOB door openings such as Cleaners, deliveries etc.
Disconnect all kitchen gas lines from their gas source
Make regular site visits to monitor your shop/business and to manage inventory and storage conditions. Consider scattering the times this is done so a pattern is not established.
For further information visit Ottawa Police Services
Monday, March 16
Mayor Conference Call Update
We just received update via conference call with the Mayor, City Staff and representatives of Ottawa Public Health.
Ottawa Public Health will be providing information online tailored to the needs of small business in the next 24-48 hours. We will forward this to you when it is ready. There are many tools and information on their site and I encourage you to take some time and review the available documentation.
At this time, the Chief Medical Officer is not recommending that businesses close, only that you take steps to reduce the risk to you, your staff and your clients. This includes regular washing of surfaces, washing your hands with soap and practicing social distancing. Continue to check their website and social media channels for the latest updates
Tax Measures- The city is looking at the possibility of extending the property tax deadline and will provide us an update in the next 48 hours.
On Friday, March 13th, the city formed the Community Economic Confidence team. This group is working within the City’s Emergency Task Force and will look at ways to support business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mayor has also formed a small group including the Chair of the Ottawa Coalition of BIA’s, President of Ottawa Tourism, and President of the Ottawa Board of Trade, to begin working on marketing and promotional initiatives for when the crisis is over.
Our Provincial organization OBIAA and national organization IDA Canada are also in contact with their counterparts to ensure our businesses are top of mind with our elected officials.
As we receive updates from various levels of government, we will forward them to you as quickly as possible.
The office remains open with reduced staffing this week. Do not hesitate to contract us if you have any questions.
Statement from Mayor Watson following a call with leaders of Ottawa’s business community:
‘’Through these very challenging times, we must come together to find ways to support Ottawa’s small businesses, restaurants, tourism operators and special events – as well as their employees, who are all hurting deeply as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following a call with the heads of BIAs, the Ottawa Board of Trade, le Regroupement des gens d’affaires, Ottawa Tourism and Ottawa Festival Network, I have struck an Economic Partners Task Force, which I will co-chair with Councillor El-Chantiry, a former small business owner and the Mayor’s representative with BIAs. The Task Force will advise our staff in many departments on how the City can help the business community as the pandemic evolves.
Ottawa is fortunate to have a number of proactive and credible business organizations who will be valued partners and contributors in these efforts. The Economic Partners Task Force will be composed of the following leaders of our business community:
Mark Kaluski, Chair, Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (BIAs)
Sueling Ching, President and CEO, Ottawa Board of Trade
Lise Sarazin, directrice générale, Regroupement des gens d’affaires (RGA)
Michael Crockatt, President and CEO, Ottawa Tourism
Carole Anne Piccinin, Executive Director, Ottawa Festival Network
City staff are currently assessing ways the City can help small business owners get through this crisis. The Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development team will be leading this initiative and working with the Task Force to maintain open lines of communication, as well as assess and roll-out a number of measures to support locally-owned shops and restaurants.
For its part, Finance is evaluating if the City is in a position to enact tax deferral measures that would help some small businesses manage their cash flow and payroll obligations.
The City of Ottawa is committed to working with all its economic development partners over the coming weeks, as we help support our restaurants and small business owners get through this pandemic. We will also be there to help with the economic recovery once our community overcomes these challenging times for all.’’
Friday, March 13
COVID-19 Update from Sparks Street
As you are aware, the COVID-19 situation is a dynamic and quickly changing situation. To stay up to date with how this pandemic is affecting the Ottawa area, we recommend you follow the advice and instructions being provided by Ottawa Public Health. They have prepared some business oriented resources and can be found in the message below.
The Ottawa Coalition of BIA’s is scheduled to have a conference call with city officials on Monday, March 16. We will report any updates back to you after the call.
If operations at your business are affected (reduced hours, etc.), please let us know.
How you can prevent the spread of germs
To reduce the spread of germs including the flu and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) we recommend that you:
Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just cleaned your hands
Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hand
If possible, stay home if you are sick
Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick
It is still recommended to get your flu shot if you haven’t already, as the flu virus is still circulating in the community
Consider social distancing (ideally 2 metres)
For more information, please visit Ottawa Public Health