COVID-19 – Updates and Resources for Members

March 24, 2020 Digital Supports for Members

Receive FREE Digital Support and Get Online Now with Digital Main Street! 
There has never been a more important time for small businesses to start migrating over to digital or to enhance their current offering with digital services. The BIA urges all businesses to take advantage of these opportunities as soon as possible. These are FREE SERVICES for BIA businesses only. 

Supported by TABIA, Digital Main Street (DMS) is returning to the Junction to provide 1-on-1 VIRTUAL assistance to you, our BIA business owners, with your business’s digital transformation! No matter when things settle down, digital recovery is going to be vital for businesses to be able to return to normal. DMS will help you develop essential digital tools, including online sales and delivery, e-gift cards, online menus, digital advertising, online meetings, and more. 

You may be familiar with Lorenzo from his previous work in the Junction. Book an appointment with Lorenzo through this Google Calendar Link or email him directly at lorenzo@digitalmainstreet.ca
 
Instagram Shopping
Last year, Instagram announced two updates that make it easier for patrons to shop on Instagram, whether they stumble upon something they love or are simply in the mood to browse their favourite brands from your business. Allowing for Shopping in Stories and Shopping in Explore, people can buy your products directly from your photos and videos.

There are (at least) two local businesses who are already maximizing their Instagram accounts to drive sales into their store (view on mobile):

Learn more about how you can inspire people to purchase your offerings HERE or sign up for an April 7 Webinar on Facebook/Instagram Advertising.  


Other Digital Webinars and Tools
As part of their DMS Ontario Initiative, OBIAA is offering a series of FREE webinar training sessions that all small main street businesses are welcome to attend. 
 
The webinars cover the full spectrum of digital topics from Maximizing Your Online Advertising Budget and E-Commerce to Google Analytics and Data Privacy and the LawMore details about all of our upcoming webinars can be found at obiaa.com/training. These webinars run monthly with several of these topics rotating on a monthly basis until June 2020.
 
In addition, Digital Main Street has compiled a list of tools, how-to guides, and tutorials available to assist all main street businesses in embracing digital technology. Businesses can find information on: how to build their online presence, using social media effectively, paid advertising and much more by clicking HERE.
 
Again, our #1 recommendation is to connect with our Digital Service Squad, who will assist you 1-on-1 through a virtual appointment. BOOK NOW! 

March 23, 2020 Update and Resources

1. City and Province Order All Non-Essential Businesses to Shut Down
BREAKING NEWS: Ontario has ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down, effective tomorrow, March 24, 11:59 PM and in effect for at least the next two weeks.

A list of essential and non-essential businesses will be released by the government tomorrow. “It is expected that only essential manufacturing and supply-chain providers, as well as medical offices, supermarkets, pharmacies, LCBO outlets, and takeout restaurants, will be allowed to remain open.”

We are saddened that we have come to this point but we support the decision of the government to promote social distancing. Realizing that the next few months will be difficult for us all, we will continue providing you with updates and resources to help us all recover together, including those below. 

2. Receive FREE Digital Support and Get Online with Digital Main Street! 
Digital Main Street (DMS) is returning to the Junction to provide 1-on-1 VIRTUAL assistance to you, our BIA business owners, with your business’s digital transformation! No matter when things settle down, digital recovery is going to be vital for businesses to be able to return to normal. DMS will help you develop essential digital tools, including online sales and delivery, e-gift cards, online menus, digital advertising, online meetings, and more. 

This is a FREE SERVICE for BIA businesses only. You may be familiar with Lorenzo from his previous work in the Junction. Book an appointment with Lorenzo through this Google Calendar Link or email him directly at lorenzo@digitalmainstreet.ca

3. Federal Supports for Business: An FAQ
As previously shared, the federal government is providing aid and support to small businesses in different ways. For clarification, see this Frequently Asked Questions doc provided by a federal representative. 

4. The Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit for Businesses
It is critical that businesses are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to respond to protect public health and ensure the continued essential operations of their organizations. The guidelines and resources contained in This Toolkit have been prepared by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to help businesses plan for and adapt to the disruption of COVID-19 and any future influenza pandemics. 

5. Letters to the Federal and Provincial Government on Behalf of Business
The Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) and Toronto Association of BIAs (TABIA) provide representation and lobbying for our BIA and its members to all levels of government. Both organizations are calling on the Federal and Provincial governments to provide greater support to small businesses, including direct financial relief (cash vs loans), an infusion of marketing funds for BIAs, and property tax postponement. See their letters written on our behalf below: 


6. Petition to the Federal Government to Further Support Small Business
One of our members has asked us to share a petition asking the federal government to direct their COVID-19 aid package for small businesses away from providing credit and toward rent relief, labour subsidies, and debt deferral. Should this be of interest, you can read about the petition at savesmallbusiness.ca. It is your right to sign this petition.


We remain here to serve you. Wishing you well.

~The Junction BIA Team 
Carol Jolly, Executive Director (416-561-3683) mobile
Matthew Mohan, Operations Coordinator (647-769-1985) mobile

March 20, 2020 Resources and Free Learning Tools

SERVICES/PRACTICES THAT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF

  • The City of Toronto announced today that it was extending the grace period for payments and payment penalties for businesses to 60 days. For more information on City support, CLICK HERE.
  • The $5 billion Emergency Support Benefit from the federal government will support workers who are traditionally ineligible for EI. It is intended to be longterm income support and should be available to apply for in April, but the details on how much is being offered and for how long are still being worked out. We will send an update when we know more.
  • Effective immediately, Canada’s 6 largest banks have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges due to COVID-19. This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. More information can be found on the City of Toronto website. 
  • We have publicized a list of all operating businesses with the community, sharing Gift Card, Delivery, and Pick-up Offerings. Please Like, Share, and Comment on these posts! If you have any Junction Business Offerings that you would like to share with the public and have not yet signed up, please CLICK HERE.

FREE DIGITAL MARKETING AND LEARNING TOOLS

We’ve noticed a number of companies that make digital marketing tools are lowering their paywalls for small businesses and non-profits during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a list of ones you might want to check out:

  • Shopify is offering 90 days FREE to all new signups, gift cards available for all plans, local in-store/curbside pickup and delivery for POS, $200m commitment on Shopify capital, and a community forum, live webinars & online meetups for support (currently USA only)
  • Hootsuite, the software that many of us use to manage our social media accounts, is giving FREE access to Hootsuite Professional plan tools to small businesses and non-profits until July 1, 2020
  • If your organization uses Google G Suite, you now have FREE access to advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities through July 1, 2020
  • Microsoft is offering a FREE six-month trial for a premium tier of Microsoft Teams, its workplace chat and communication platform
  • Zoho Remotely, a collection of apps for remote teams and customer service, is FREE for everyone until July 1, 2020, and small business customers that are currently paying for any Zoho app can apply to have it for FREE for 3 months
  • LinkedIn Learning has unlocked 16 learning courses for FREE, which are geared toward working from home
  • Scribd is offering unlimited access to books, audiobooks, magazines, and documents for 30 days (including Camp Tech founder Avery Swartz’s book, See You on the Internet: Building Your Small Business with Digital Marketing!)
  • BizLaunch las launched a free webinar series on Cash Flow Management for small businesses. Founder: “One of the biggest challenges business owners will face in this difficult time is Cash Flow Management. We have been doing this for 26 years and are here to help”
  • Shaw Academy is offering a 4-week course in Social Media Marketing for FREE, a $60 value. 

We remain here to serve you. Be well.

~ The Junction BIA Team
Carol Jolly, Executive Director (416-561-3683)
Matthew Mohan, Operations Coordinator (647-769-1985)

March 20, 2020 Crime Prevention for Business

We understand that as traffic on the street becomes scarce, some business owners may worry about an increase in crime in the area. We have been in contact with 11 Division to relay the concerns of local businesses. Officers will be patrolling local business areas during this time and have provided a list of Crime Prevention Tips below. 

1. Safety Checklist to Share – For Businesses
Police recommend the following guidelines:

Your Cash

  • Keep as little cash around as possible.
  • Make bank deposits frequently but irregularly so as not to establish a discernible pattern.
  • Securely anchor your safe in a highly visible, well-lit location.
  • Empty your cash drawers and leave them open after hours. (consider leaving the empty cash drawer near the front door, advertising that there is no money on hand).
  • Keep the premises visible from the street; avoid blocking the interior view with high window displays and/or advertisements on windows.
  • Make sure trees and shrubs around entranceways are trimmed.
  • Don’t leave ladders or tools lying around that a burglar could use to help them break in.

Doors and Windows

  • Use deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Those with glass should have double cylinder deadbolts.
  • Make sure you check all doors and windows each day, before closing.
  • Develop a system of key security. Make sure all keys issued are signed for and turned in when an employee leaves the company. You may even want to change locks and combinations.
  • Do not label or identify keys with what they are used for. If necessary, use a coding system.
  • If you have doors with outside hinges, use non-removable hinge pins. Install panel doors lined with metal to resist drilling.
  • Doors and windows on the sides and rear of a building are often inviting to the burglar because they offer concealment.
  • Steel reinforcing bars on doors and gratings or bars on windows offer good security. Check with Toronto Fire & bylaw regarding bylaws or codes that may restrict this practice
  • Every exterior opening offers a potential point of entry. Do not overlook security at places like fire escapes, skylights, roof openings, air ducts, doorway transoms, loading docks, sidewalk and basement openings.
  • Before you leave, check all potential hiding places, like bathrooms, closets and storage areas. The last thing you want to do is to lock a burglar inside.

Alarm System

  • Install a good alarm system and have it checked regularly.
  • Make sure it is wired to go off at all potential points of entry, including doors, windows, roof openings, loading docks and vents.

Surveillance CCTV System

  • Protect your business with a quality CCTV system.  
  • Ensure that the storage drive is recording and accessible to police when required.
  • Post signs advising that the area is under video surveillance.
  • Place height markers at the main entrance so employees can use them to gauge the height of a robber as he/she leaves the business on video.
  • Install CCTV cameras that offer nighttime surveillance.
  • Install motion-sensor lights around the exterior of the building.

REMINDER!

  • Attend your business periodically to assess if everything is in order.
  • Post a notice on the front door stating “No Cash or Goods on Hand.”
  • Remove valuable items from the front of the store such as electronicsalcoholiPadsexpensive hair care products& point of sale electronics.

Other general Robbery Prevention techniques have been posted HERE and follow 11 Division’s social media accounts to stay updated. 
Twitter:       @tps11div
Instagram:  @tps11div
Facebook:   www.facebook.com/tps11div/

2. Book a Safety Audit
It may be worthwhile to use this time to schedule a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Audit. 11 Division will conduct an individual assessment of your business and provide personalised crime prevention tips. Email Constable Jan Barr (Janet.Barr@torontopolice.on.ca) to set up a Safety Audit today. It is a simple process that typically takes an hour.

March 18, 2020 Federal Support for Business 

This morning, the Federal government announced the first details of its economic support package. The full listing and more details can be found here. See below for some highlights:

  • Available immediately, small business owners are eligible for a wage subsidy equal to 10% of their current wage allocation.
  • The CRA will allow businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
  • Available Early April, Introducing an Emergency Care Benefit for workers, including the self-employed, who do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.
  • Available Early April, Implementing the EI “Work Sharing Program” which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers (employers should submit an application to qualify for this ASAPvia this link)
  • Available immediately, the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses.
    • Small businesses can apply for a $100,000 loan with a 48hr approval process. Note: Personal guarantees with a good credit score is necessary.
    • If you already have a loan with BDC, you can defer your payments for 6 months.

March 17, 2020 Update & Other Resources 

Dear Junction BIA Members,

We had hoped to not have to send an update so soon after the last one, but as we all know, the situation is unpredictable and changing rapidly.

Please be advised that the Province has declared a state of emergency and ordered all bars, restaurants, theatres, child care centres, recreation centres and privates schools to close, effective immediately until March 31.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other businesses, including restaurants and bars that can shift to takeout/delivery mechanisms, can continue to operate. 

https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/ontario-enacts-declaration-of-emergency-to-protect-the-public.html

We understand that it is difficult to stay in business during this time of social distancing and isolation. We know that some of our local businesses, such as The Beet, are open for takeout & delivery, and offer gift cards for purchase that can be used later. We are e-blasting a public announcement on Junction Business Offerings to our 2,600+ opt-in mailing list subscribers plus promote it to our 15,000+ fans/followers and beyond through boosted posts on social media. Be sure to share this link with your friends and neighbours!

If your business is able to facilitate the sale of Gift Cards, Delivery, Pick-up, or any other special offers/considerations, please fill out the form below by Wed, March 18 at 5 PM. 

OTHER SERVICES/PRACTICES THAT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF:

  • Facebook is offering a Small Business Grants Program to support small businesses that are experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. They will begin taking applications in the coming weeks. To stay informed and sign up for updates, CLICK HERE.
  • TRACK YOUR LOSSES. It is not unheard of for the Government to require a complete audit of your sales before, during, and after the outbreak in order to calculate future compensation. 
  • The City of Toronto announced that it was extending a grace period for payments and payment penalties for businesses for 30 days, starting March 16, 2020. For more information on City supports, CLICK HERE.
  • Some businesses may be interested in the process of getting Employment Insurance (EI) for your staff that may need to be or have recently been laid off. Some information on EI changes can be found HERE. Service Canada has also set up a dedicated phone line for employers and employees regarding EI claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic: Call 1-833-381-2725.
  • It is important that we support each other on social media, so Like, Share, and Comment on your neighbour’s posts (don’t forget ours)! Remember to use the #JunctionTO and @TorontoJunction in your own posts.

This is also a reminder that The Junction BIA office is currently closed but we are available by email and (in the case of an emergency) by cell phone. 

Despite all the uncertainty, we are encouraged to see how Canadians and Torontonians are looking out for each other. Let’s work together as we all navigate Covid-19. 

~ The Junction BIA Team
Carol Jolly, Executive Director (416-561-3683)
Matthew Mohan, Operations Coordinator (647-769-1985)

March 16, 2020 Update on Mayor’s Economic Support

Dear Junction BIA Members,

Today Toronto Mayor John Tory launched an Economic Support and Recovery Task Force and announced measures to help provide immediate economic relief, due to covid19.

Below are the five details you will likely be most interested in reading. We suggest you periodically check the official link for more details and ongoing updates using the button below.

Five Immediate Measures Can Be Undertaken:

1) Extend a grace period for tax and other City of Toronto payments for businesses (payment and payment penalties) first for 30 days starting March 16.

2) Protect City employees from layoffs this month due to the cancellation of City programs. The City is committed to paying for shifts that were planned for City-run daycares, museums, and recreation centres.

3) Establish a substantial contingency fund to support businesses and affected groups, based on consultations to determine need and scale.

4) Facilitate entry into the EI System for those impacted by the pandemic. The City will work with companies and employees to ensure they are fully aware of how to apply for their rights under employment insurance.

5) Expand the City’s small business advisory services to help businesses as they plan to recover from impacts.

The Mayor will advocate to the other levels of government for penalties to be waived for business owners failing to remit HST on time. Mayor Tory and the City will continue to advocate relentlessly for other support measures to help businesses and residents who require it.

24-hour Retail Delivery Exemption
Effective immediately, and until further notice, all retail businesses are exempt from the City of Toronto Noise Bylaw to facilitate after-hour deliveries.

The City’s Noise Bylaw includes the ability to provide an exemption in response to extraordinary circumstances affecting the immediate health, safety or welfare of the community. This exemption will ensure retailers can receive deliveries 24 hours of a day, seven days a week to ensure essential goods remain in stock.


For reference, see here and here for the first and second pages of Mayor Tory’s official statement. 

Our thoughts are with you and your employees as we all navigate Covid-19. 

-The Junction BIA

March 10, 2020 Update by Toronto Public Health

Please find an update on COVID-19 courtesy of Toronto Public Health below.

 

We are writing to provide you with an update on the COVID-19 situation and response efforts that Toronto Public Health is leading, and provide you with information that you may find helpful.

 

COVID-19 is not circulating locally in our community. To date everyone in Toronto who has contracted this virus has had a history of travel to an affected area, specifically China, Iran, and Egypt. In Toronto, we are actively monitoring cases of COVID-19. These people are currently at home in self-isolation.

 

As March break approaches and as people may have plans to travel, we recommend reviewing the Public Health Agency of Canada’s travel notices link. The Public Health Agency of Canada is advising people with a recent history of travel in Iran to self-isolate for 14 days after their last day in Iran. This is similar to the advice being given to individuals who have travelled to Hubei Province, China. Toronto residents who have travelled in these areas are asked to call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 within 24 hours of when they arrive in Toronto to receive support and further instructions. 

 

More information for organizers of large gatherings and businesses is below:

 

o   For sector specific guidance documents for businesses and workplaces please see COVID-19 Workplace Info

 

o   More detailed guidance for large community events can be found at COVID-19 Mass Gathering Info

 

We also encourage your organization to stay informed by regularly reviewing credible information sources, including our website www.toronto.ca/coronavirusYou can also call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Translation is available in many languages.

 

For more information and for regular updates, please visit our website at www.toronto.ca/coronavirus

 

If your organization has any specific questions, please email our TPH Liaison team at TPHLiaison@toronto.ca.

 

We ask that you continue to share this information with your networks, and to direct those with questions to our hotline at 416-338-7600 to ensure they have access to the latest information about this evolving situation. 

March 9, 2020 Update by Ontario Health Ministers

News Release 

STATEMENT FROM MINISTERS ELLIOTT AND MACLEOD ON THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

March 9, 2020

TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, issued the following statement in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry:

“The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government’s number one priority. Ontario continues to work directly alongside our partners at the Public Health Agency of Canada and local public health units to monitor the situation closely, and we encourage residents and visitors to Ontario to stay informed by regularly reviewing credible information on the Ontario government’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage.

We are also working closely with our agencies and attractions to respond appropriately. This includes working with Destination Ontario to direct marketing efforts to domestic, national and other markets not impacted by COVID-19. Our attractions are also implementing appropriate protocols to be in-line with public health and safety recommendations. Finally, we are actively engaged with our federal government colleagues to ensure a coordinated response to tourism impacts.

We want to assure all residents and tourists to Ontario that officials at the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries are working together in close cooperation with our partners to ensure public safety continues to be protected and our tourism industry continues to thrive.”

To help educate Ontarians and visitors about COVID-19, how they can protect themselves and what to do if they suspect they may be at risk, the province has launched a dedicated webpage

CONTACTS

Brooke Timpson
Minister’s Office
Brooke.Timpson@ontario.ca

Denelle Balfour
Communications Branch
Denelle.Balfour@ontario.ca

Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

http://www.ontario.ca/tourism