Southern Ontario Spotlight - June 2020

Southern Ontario Spotlight



Government of Canada COVID-19 response

New platform helps main street businesses go digital

New platform helps main street businesses go digital

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses of all sizes across the country. In particular, retail-oriented main street businesses have suffered with stores closed and in-person commerce halted. To support these businesses to recover and generate new revenue, on June 11, Minister Joly announced a FedDev Ontario investment of $50 million to support Ontario small businesses to go digital, including $42.5 million to establish the Digital Main Street Platform. This Platform, delivered by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA), the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), Communitech, and Invest Ottawa, will offer tailored support to businesses to adopt digital technologies to compete now and in the future, while creating work opportunities for students.

The Platform will include three pillars:

  1. Entry level support: OBIAA will provide services to an estimated 2,750 main street businesses in the initial stages of developing an online presence. Digital service squads will help businesses implement transformation plans and OBIAA will provide contributions of $2,500 to help businesses create a compelling online presence.
  2. Intermediate level support to build an online storefront (ShopHere): This model deploys students to build online stores and provides initial support for operating the online store and related digital marketing. This pillar will support an estimated 16,450 businesses across Ontario, and will be delivered by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), Communitech and Invest Ottawa.
  3. Advanced level support through Future-Proofing Main Street: This pillar involves specialized engagement over a longer time with main street firms looking to accelerate their digital growth in three key sectors: retail, restaurant/hospitality, and services/trades. Local experts and students will help businesses develop global marketing strategies and advanced digital marketing, to be complemented by networking, mentoring and specialized training provided by Communitech, Invest Ottawa and other regional innovation centres across Ontario. This pillar will support an estimated 2,700 businesses.

The Digital Main Street Platform will support nearly 22,000 main street businesses and create experiential learning opportunities for over 1,400 students. The Government of Ontario is also investing $7.45 million to extend this Platform to Northern Ontario and support even more businesses. For more information or to apply, visit the Digital Main Street website. To learn more about the Platform, read the pivotal project profile on our website

“As local economies across Ontario reopen, we’re focused on ensuring that our main streets don’t just survive, but thrive. These businesses are the backbone of our economy, a source of local jobs – and local pride. Thanks to the expanded Digital Main Street platform, they’ll be able to expand their offerings and take advantage of more and more people shopping online. Our message to Ontario’s small businesses, and those whose livelihoods rely on them, is clear: we’re working with you to support good jobs and help our economy come back stronger than ever.”


The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario


New support to help SMEs seize opportunities in a digital world

New support to help SMEs seize opportunities in a digital world

As part of the $50 million investment to help businesses go digital, FedDev Ontario is contributing $7.5 million to establish the Recovery Activation Program. The project will be delivered by the Toronto Region Board of Trade in partnership with its extensive network of chambers of commerce across Ontario, and will focus primarily on supporting B2B firms and small manufacturers. Through this initiative, key partners will deliver training and provide advice to over 1,000 SMEs on how to digitize their supply chains, customer acquisition systems and back office operations. The Government of Ontario is contributing $200,000 to enhance delivery of RAP.

With more than 13,500 members and strategic partnerships across the regions, the Toronto Region Board of Trade is one of the largest chambers of commerce in North America and will use this reach to have a significant impact on the region’s businesses.

Learn more about the Recovery Activation Program on the Toronto Region Board of Trade website.

“We created the Recovery Activation Program as a direct response to what we’re hearing from our members and the business community at large: digital tools and services are crucial to success, but challenging to implement alone. The governments’ investment in RAP makes them a valuable partner in helping businesses overcome these challenges, enabling us to significantly expand the program’s reach and offer it completely free to enterprises across the province.” Jan De Silva, President and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade
FedDev Ontario funding supports tourism and recovery efforts in southern Ontario

FedDev Ontario funding supports tourism and recovery efforts in southern Ontario

The tourism industry has been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, as travel- and tourism-related activities have ceased during recent months. Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are critical to the fabric of local tourism sectors, as they help drive the visitor economy in communities across the region. Now more than ever, DMOs are needed to help communities attract tourists and regain revenue as the economy reopens. Southern Ontario’s 66 DMOs have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, as 65–90% of their revenues typically come from fees generated by the accommodations sector.

On May 31, Minister Joly announced that the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) is receiving $30 million from FedDev Ontario to provide financial relief to DMOs across southern Ontario that have experienced significant revenue shortfalls.

DMOs can now apply through the TIAO website for non-repayable contributions to support them as they launch campaigns to drive visitor activity back into their communities and provide relief to local tourism operators.

Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

The Government of Canada continues to announce measures to help stabilize the economy as part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Updates from the last month include:

  • Applications are now being accepted for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) website;
  • The eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account has been expanded to include businesses 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;
  • $15 million in additional funding to support women entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy;
  • $450 million in funding to help Canada’s academic research community retain staff and maintain essential research-related activities;
  • Additional funding for health, economic and social support for Indigenous peoples and communities;
  • Funding delivered through the federal Gas Tax Fund will be accelerated this year to help communities quickly move forward with infrastructure projects that will improve quality of life and help restart local economies;
  • The new Fish Harvester Benefit, which helps provide income support for eligible self-employed fish harvesters and crew who cannot access existing federal measures.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also convened world leaders and international organizations in a joint initiative to accelerate our global response to the economic and human impacts of COVID-19. Watch the virtual event on the United Nations website.

Supporting southern Ontario businesses through COVID-19

Supporting southern Ontario businesses through COVID-19

FedDev Ontario continues to support businesses, organizations and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic and into a more stable future.

Since launching the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund on May 13, and with southern Ontario CFDCs all opening their applications for the Fund throughout the month of May, FedDev Ontario has been hosting information sessions to inform local businesses about the Fund and how to apply. This includes sessions with the City of Niagara Falls Tourism Stakeholder Committee, the City of Brampton Economic Development and Culture Office, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the City of Kingston, and Invest Ottawa, as well as sessions with the London Economic Development Corporation and the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce led by Parliamentary Secretary Kate Young alongside FedDev Ontario staff.

Minister Joly also continues to host virtual sessions across the country to share information and support for businesses, hear concerns and answer questions. She recently took part in webinars with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, l’Assemblee de la francophone de l’Ontario and the Canadian Digital Media Network.

To further support our existing clients, we have also extended the deferral of repayments owing to FedDev Ontario by another three months. Clients will now be able to defer repayments until September 30, 2020. Please consult the questions and answers for more information.


FedDev Ontario recipients support COVID-19 response

CAN Health Network innovations support reopening and economic recovery
CAN Health Network innovations support reopening and economic recovery

Through the CAN Health Network, emerging needs of medical partners are paired with cutting-edge solutions from tech companies.

CAN Health Network innovations support reopening and economic recovery

Members of the CAN Health Network have reached a 10-project milestone with the onset of a new project.

In April 2020, Precision Biomonitoring Inc.(PBI) partnered with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to validate a handheld point-of-care COVID-19 testing device. PBI is collaborating with The Research Institute of St. Joe's Hamilton to implement its existing diagnostic test for use in PBI's handheld device. Sunnybrook scientists will be helping validate the new diagnostic test format alongside St. Joe's. 

The device is ideal for the on-the-spot tests, allowing for COVID-19 test results to be obtained by nine patients in as little as one hour.  

Learn more about the CAN Health Network on our website

Tech companies are putting the brakes on COVID-19
Tech companies are putting the brakes on COVID-19

Tech companies are putting the brakes on COVID-19

Southern Ontario is known for its innovation, and as the world looks to combat COVID-19 and move into a safer future, FedDev Ontario funding recipients are developing tools to help get us there.

Canadian medical innovators PKA SoftTouch launched a public equity crowdfunding campaign to support the company’s globally-patented Micro-Needle technology, a thumb-sized device that has the potential to solve large-scale vaccination delivery issues to underserved populations worldwide, removing the negatives of sharp disposal, dosage and pain. Clinical trials will be conducted at the University of Guelph and Southlake Regional Health Centre.

BioConnect is accelerating its rollout of facial and voice recognition technologies under its BioConnect Cares initiative, specifically designed to minimize the chances of a second wave of COVID-19 as employees return to offices. BioConnect’s touchless access solutions can verify employees’ identities and provide building access without requiring physical touch.

SmartCone Technologies is partnering with SIMS LLC. to bring a new social distancing technology to market. The SIMS: Surrounding Intelligent Motion Sensor device can be attached to clothing, and will alert the user if someone is breaching a pre-set safe distance.

Underwater robotics company Deep Trekker is developing and testing a pair of land-based robots that are capable of spraying disinfectant or using a form of ultraviolet light to eliminate the coronavirus in workplaces or public spaces. The robots are controlled remotely, meaning operators are not subjected to risk of exposure and valuable personal protective equipment can be saved.

FDO recipients produce personal protective equipment for healthcare workers
FDO recipients produce personal protective equipment for healthcare workers

Jonathan Anderson, director of Ryerson's Creative Technology Lab, wearing a laser-cut face shield. Photo credit: Ryerson University

FDO recipients produce personal protective equipment for healthcare workers

Businesses and organizations across the region continue to support our frontline workers in the response against COVID-19. Thanks to the teams below and many others across the country who have shifted operations to support those who need it most.

New resources for companies seeking to support COVID-19 response
New resources for companies seeking to support COVID-19 response

New resources for companies seeking to support COVID-19 response

You pivot, we pivot! As southern Ontario businesses shift gears to offer new products, services and technologies in response to COVID-19, the Government of Canada and the region’s business support networks are launching new tools and initiatives to help more firms join the effort.

The National Research Council provides resources and expertise to businesses, organizations and individuals working on a COVID-19 project or medical innovation, or that could provide PPE for frontline workers.

The Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19 directly supports businesses to rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop products made in Canada that will help in the fight against COVID-19. Canadian businesses that can help with Canada’s medical and PPE supply needs can offer support through this portal.

Businesses seeking to advance their R&D efforts can search for specific research services, locate start-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and establish R&D partnerships with universities, colleges and research hospitals using the new Innovation Navigator tool from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Toronto-based businesses and organizations that are responding to COVID-19 can request one-on-one virtual support with completing applications for government assistance programs by submitting a business support request through the BusinessTO Support Centre

Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network are accepting applications for SheBoot, a women-led bootcamp designed to help female founders of scalable technology companies acquire key skills and access capital, mentors and support networks. The four-week bootcamp will conclude with a pitch competition for up to $100,000 in investment. Submit your SheBoot program application by June 19, 2020.


LinkedIn Highlights

Available to tech entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, DMZ Innisfil provides online programming, workshop curriculum, mentorship, a 300+ venture capital network and expedited government procurement for relevant innovations.
It aims to create a new wave of scalable technology businesses outside of traditional big city centers, connect entrepreneurs to these resources, and to continue building the startup ecosystem in Innisfil.
Applications for the DMZ Innisfil program are currently open.

You can step up to the plate and join them.

Follow the link below to find:

  • National employment listings in agriculture and food production
  • Provincial and territorial job boards
  • Student employment resources
  • Agriculture sector health and safety, skills, and training resources

Supercluster, Scale AI recently launched a call for ideas and solutions to help Canada meet #COVID19 challenges by leveraging technology and artificial intelligence.

AlayaCare received a total investment of $312,500 to create a new tool for monitoring the health of homecare patients and workers. The solution helps protect their health, limit the risk of spreading the virus and ensures continuity of care and services, whether in person or through an offer of virtual consultations.

The two companies received the Empowering Care Teams award for their development of LTC eConnect, a unified solution to help clinicians and care teams provide complex care in long-term care facilities.


COVID-19: Key resources

Main Street Transformation Platform
Ontario Businesses Go Digital

Support for Ontario small businesses to digitize their operations

Recovery Activation Program
Recovery Activation Program

If you are an Ontario SME seeking customized advice on digitizing any aspect of your operations, sign up to participate in the no-cost Recovery Activation Program through the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
Tourism Industry Association of Ontario

If you are a destination marketing organization, visit the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario website for more information on the support available.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

Find out if you are eligible and apply online


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