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COVID Coping – Episode 4 “Ontario Together”

Hello, bonjour, and welcome to Local First on Carlsbad-Vars Radio, CJRO, at 107.7 and 107.9 FM and online, at

I’m Candice Vetter, coming into your home from mine.

This episode of Local First is another in the COVID Coping series. This week’s theme is “Ontario Together” because of instructions sent out by the province last week.

First off, businesses that involve people being outside are going to be allowed to reopen soon. Premier Doug Ford said marinas, golf courses, farmers’ markets, community gardens, and garden centres can prepare to open, and car dealerships can open by appointment.

So that’s great news for springtime, but the province is also begging the public for help. A news release asks for emergency products, innovative solutions, and volunteers to support responses.

The province is seeking medical supplies, particularly gowns, thermometers, swabs, masks, eye protection, etc.

If you can supply products go to where you can see how to submit products, how to submit innovations, how to submit ideas, and how to volunteer. Or call 1-888-777-0554. As a journalist for over a decade I find the present responsiveness of governments to ideas from the public simply fascinating. I hope it lasts for a while.

Some specific solutions needed are: production of 3D printed Nasopharyngeal swabs that are commercial ready, and small businesses to digitize and leverage e-commerce opportunities. The province has set aside $50 million dollars to support submissions. If your submission will help you retool or adopt changes needed to produce supplies and equipment for the health care sector, or if you are developing solutions for other critical public services, you may be eligible for the Ontario Together Fund.

There are other supports you can read about on the website as well.

The province has also been planning financial relief for residents. Businesses will get five months of interest and penalty relief to file and make payments for most provincially administered taxes.

Between April 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, the province will not apply any penalty or interest on late returns or incomplete or late tax payments such as Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax and Gas Tax.

This complements relief from the federal government on interest and penalties.

The province has also deferred the June 30 property tax payments municipalities make to school boards by 90 days.

Employers can defer Workplace Safety and Insurance Board payments for up to six months.

All employers covered by the workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial relief package.

Schedule 1 employers who owe premiums to the WSIB will be allowed to defer reporting and payments until August 1, 2020.

Schedule 2 businesses that pay WSIB for the cost related to workplace claims can defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020.

No interest will accrue and no penalties will be charged during this six-month period.

Electricity is going to cost less too. From March 24 to May 8 residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers will get the off-peak rate, which is the lowest, 24 hours a day. That means you will pay 10.1 ¢/kWh no matter what time of day you use electricity.

This rate will be automatically applied to your bill.

The Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption for 2020 is increasing from $490,000 to $1 million. As an employer, this means relief of up to $9,945.

The annual tax return form is not changing. Only the amount for the exemption claimed will change. Everything else remains the same.

Instalment payments will only be due after payroll has exceeded the new $1 million dollar exemption level.

If a business no longer needs to make instalment payments as a result of the increased exemption amount, you do not need to notify the Ministry of Finance.

The ministry will be reviewing all 2020 EHT returns and correcting the returns for the new exemption level.

If you are building, renovating or acquiring commercial or industrial buildings in designated regions in Ontario, you could be eligible to save up to $50,000 this year.

You can apply for this tax credit when you file your tax return.

The province has created a new unpaid, job-protected infectious disease emergency leave. Workers can take this leave if they are not able to work due to COVID-19. Learn more about the new leave and the Employment Standards Act.

The province has provided some Sector-specific guidance , resources, best practices and other information about rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 outbreak. You can also download posters about physical distancing best practices for your sector.

Get resources related to:

  • agriculture

  • construction

  • food processing

  • food services

  • long-term care

  • manufacturing

To help remove obstacles and streamline Ontario's ability to respond to the outbreak and navigate through it, several temporary rules and regulations have been put in place.

To support your work during COVID-19, you can request a temporary regulation or policy to change if it will help:

  • the health care system meet the needs of needs of the emergency

  • businesses in retooling or producing essential or health-related products and supplies, or will

  • make it easier for businesses trying to operate remotely or in a non-traditional fashion and are facing unexpected challenges

Do you have news that matters to our area? If yes, contact me by emailing

CJRO – Last on the dial, first for local news.

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