Peterborough City and County have proven again and again through the COVID-19 crisis that we are a community that cares about the people and the institutions, businesses, and not-for-profits that call this place home.
We know it hasn’t been an easy five weeks and it’s going to be a while before we return to anything that’s close to what normal was. But we heard this week from the province that the physical distancing
measures in place are working and we have to keep going. We know that the province has an
emergency order in place until May 12th and that if that’s going to signal the start of a phasing-back we have to keep going.
There is a lot of planning going on, with businesses finding new ways to interact with their clients and each other.
Here are a few tips we have picked up through various sources:
Stay in Contact
The amount of information on government programs is overwhelming but the Chamber is here to help and pass on your concerns to municipal, provincial, and federal governments. So keep those ideas flowing.
Since COVID-19 was deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11th some days have felt like years, and some days have felt like minutes, and left disaster in their wake.
All at once it is a health crisis, a people crisis, and an economic crisis. In the context of COVID-19 governments have been pushed to speeds unlike those that have been seen in recent times and what was normal, while desired and yearned for, has a
feeling of less significance than the focus on seeing this pandemic run out of steam.
In a matter of days and weeks, Canada’s governments at all levels have enacted measures that would normally take 18-24 months to be designed and actioned. It has required a massive mindset shift to a laser focus on what needs to be done and how to get it done.
People have been called upon to stay at home, change the way they live, and to rely on the virtual rather than the human for most communications. It’s brought about changes in how we work, what we work at and how to move forward. This pandemic has revealed the variations in our economic make-up and how one-size-fits-all plans, while perhaps more simple to administer, don’t often cast the net wide enough to capture all who need to be caught. There will be questions and discussions
about how this could change once our service to country is complete.
For the business community, this has been a time that has challenged and led to light speed changes both negative and positive. In this vein, there are businesses who have retooled their operations to help front line and essential workers do their jobs
effectively, but there have also been entrepreneurs whose life’s purpose and business have fallen away from them through no control of their own. There will be questions and discussions after about what it means to prepare for the unimaginable and what measures can help pivot and support more quickly.
Recovery can be viewed in many ways. For Peterborough City and County, I know we will recover. I know we will thrive even. I know this because the entire community continually demonstrates that all aspects of this community are important.
“We are in this together” started here, is lived here and will be the legacy of here.
The following definition of recovery from Merriam & Webster’s Dictionary struck a chord:
I see us, collectively, in each of those statements.
Over the coming weeks you are going to hear about a recovery plan from Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED). This plan offers short, medium, and long-term actions that can be undertaken to ensure that the business community is supported. The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is playing a role in the development of this plan and will play a role on the recovery team, as will other members of the #TeamPtbo taskforce. The plan must receive approval from City and County councils and be endorsed by the PKED Board of Directors to move forward. This is expected to happen in the coming weeks. It will be important work and it won’t be easy, but rest assured the team pushing the plan forward will be committed to
On April 9th, 2020, the Ontario government launched a new Ontario Jobs and Recovery
Committee which will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
The mandate of the committee is to develop a plan to stimulate economic growth and job creation in the weeks and months ahead. The Committee will be consulting with a wide variety of people to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop an action plan to move forward, including business associations,
chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, corporate leaders, small business
owners, and entrepreneurs.
As such, for both of these plans moving forward it means an understanding of
the needs of our businesses, from solo to small to medium and to large is required. The plans must apply to those with unique circumstances, those with or without employees, those that have ideas for improving on the foundation of what was once normal.
As was the case with the collapse, recovery will be individual, will require a different mindset, and may even solidify a new path forward that has opened up during this pandemic. And yes, it may very well be just as traumatic as the slowing of the economy on our businesses as those same businesses try and re-start the engine.
Around the world and around the country we are starting to see different ways to recover. Quebec has re-opened a few industry sectors, Saskatchewan is looking to
do the same, and in Asia and Europe the roots of recovery are slowly starting to form. There will be set backs, undoubtedly there often always are, but our community, our business community will persist and support.
There is no solid time frame for coming out the other side and that’s frustrating and really hard, but we can think, we can plan, and we can be ready.
Grady's Feet Essentials
“Kelli and Tony went completely out of their way to help me out today. I work a mostly desk job at the hospital and Covid19 will have me thrown into a new role my footwear wasn’t prepared for, my dress shoes aren’t going to cut it and my runners are worn out. I have issues with my feet and ordering online has not worked for me in the past. With pretty much everything closed or closing I asked for assistance online and Kelli answered my call with a great suggestion and plan to get me shoes while keeping both of us safe. I have so much gratitude and respect for the Grady’s
helping me out in these difficult and different times!” – Sabrina
Many thanks to Sabrina for the wonderful recommendation. It is our pleasure to help front line workers and anyone else requiring comfortable footwear, insoles or accessories while our Lansdowne Place Mall location is closed due to COVID-19.
We provide Free home delivery to the Peterborough area. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance or gradys.ca
- Kelli & Tony Grady
We have been honoured and humbled by the response from local businesses and members of our community who have rallied alongside us to help raise funds to support PRHC's COVID-19 response efforts. We have loved seeing the creativity and
thoughtfulness behind each fundraiser! We could not be more grateful for our community's generosity during these challenging times.
If you are planning a fundraiser or business promotion in support of PRHC Foundation, please let us know – It’s easy:
Thank you for standing behind PRHC's frontline healthcare professionals. Together, we will get through this.
Harco Enterprises & Merit Precision
A collaboration between Peterborough companies being led by Harco Enterprises Limited with support from Merit Precision is working to build Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Harco Enterprises is using its skills to retool and make plastic and rubber components that can hold and attach face shields, worn by medical professionals and first responders. Many other local manufacturers such as AVIT Manufacturing are also offering up their expertise to help.
We knew we were saving 30 years of scrap material for something important! Time to give back to our amazing community #peterboroughontario
Within the past two days we have made 70+ masks to donate to Peterborough Regional Health Center and Fairhaven LTC.
Fighting #covid19 together!
Chemong Family Dental
Dropped off our PPE donation to @prhc1 ! Between our offices we were able to donate 6000 gloves, 500 masks, 86 gowns, hand sanitizer and face shields.
We encourage you to donate certified PPE if you can, or if you can sew, they’re also looking for mask donations in order to preserve certified PPE for health care providers and support staff.
To our healthcare heroes, we thank you for your courageous work
La Mesita Restaurante
UPDATE: As of April 4, 2020. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to make the surgical caps. Our friend is overwhelmed by your response! She is only asking for surgical caps, not the masks as they cannot use them. Any items made can be dropped off at our restaurant. We will deliver them to her and she will take care of
making them safe for use and then distribute them at PRHC. We knew we had amazing customers who would jump at the opportunity to help! You have proven it!!
Comfort Keepers Peterborough
Corey, 2 of our team members and I have delivered approx 30+ orders of groceries in 2 weeks! Well done team and here’s hoping we can stay healthy to continue supporting our seniors.
Thank you to each household for staying home and keeping everyone safe.
Thank you to Sobeys for maintaining the cleanliness of your store, your staff smiling and happy, and the other customers for keeping their distance!
Thank you to Fully Promoted Canada (Peterborough) for the donation of reusable bags!
Find all your business resources here:
There are a number of programs being built and implemented with lightning speed in order to help residents and business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks to our member Cody & James CPAs for pulling together a chart that breaks down each program. This resource is posted on our website:
This will be a high-level overview of the programs and we encourage you to check out the above website as all programs for the federal, provincial, and municipal governments can be found through the COVID-19 Business Resource Portal.
Expense Reduction Items:
Replacement Income Items:
Tax-Free Benefit Items:
A resource created by Chamber member Matthew Savino and his team at Savino Human Resources Partners is also extremely helpful.
The flowchart is designed to help people navigate Employment Insurance and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Business Information Line
Business Continuity Survey
Leaders from PKED, DBIA, Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Peterborough and Innovation Cluster (TeamPTBO) are working together to identify how the impact of COVID-19 will be hardest felt by our local business community.
Our staff at the Chamber, all working from home, are focussed on two things: providing answers and lobbying all levels of government for meaningful support for both employers and employees.
The biggest announcement this week, so far, was the Ontario Government’s closure of all non-essential businesses. Here is the link to the list of what is essential vs non-essential. This is a list of 74 categories of business that could remain open at this time.
One sentence from the government website we know is causing some confusion is: “This does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery.”
Here is what we heard from MPP Dave Smith's office:
"If your business is not listed as an essential business and you have a bricks and mortar location, that location must be closed by 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. If your business is able to operate online, by telephone, or by mail/delivery you may continue to operate."
Our dedicated website is being updated daily and is considered the go-to source for quality, filtered information. If you need information about any announcement from any level of government; links to the proper government agencies; or available support locally, provincially and federally, you’ll find it here:
One of the big areas of confusion is around employment. Also on our website you will find links to:
And here are two existing Employment Insurance programs that may also prove to be useful:
We continue to meet by conference call almost daily with all three levels of government. We are listening to you and learning what works and what doesn’t. For example, the announced 10% wage subsidy compares to as much as 80% in other Countries. The question from business is: Is it better to lay people off and swamp the employment insurance system, or to provide a wage subsidy that allows employers to keep people employed? This is a key policy position of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and we anticipate some movement on this issue.
This lobbying/advocacy work is the core work of the Chamber in good times, let alone now. Thus it is important that our membership remain strong.
Not only do we appreciate the support of our existing members, but to the businesses that have reached out and joined our Chamber in the past week, thank you. As the situation evolves we are confident that we can continue to provide “Influence, Profile, Knowledge” to our members.
Information is key
A consortium of local organizations involved in economic development have already provided our elected leaders with an important temperature check about what is really happening in the business community. A second survey has just been released today, and will also provide important information for all three levels of government as they design a strategy to support the business community.
Indeed, this is an unprecedented situation. The Covid-19 Virus has been more than well documented, and the story is not finished.
But perhaps we should look at a few other unprecedented things that are going on. Acknowledging first the fact that there are indeed precedents. Viral outbreaks in many forms have fundamentally changed society in the past.
Multiple examples of unimaginable sacrifice can also, and should also, be brought to mind. The Greatest Generation is a term used to describe those who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II, and those whose labour helped win it, as one example.
But most people are experiencing this level of upheaval for the first time. One of the most difficult aspects of this current situation is how it has gotten worse every day, and if you look back to all of the post-SARS inquiries and reports, perhaps not all of the
lessons were truly learned. But here we are.
There are many things that we should acknowledge:
The unprecedented measures announced by the Federal Government will not solve everything, but they will go a long way to mitigating the impacts, the full extent of which are not yet clear.
Lastly, I have seen some deeply disturbing comments about people, businesses, elected
leaders, public officials, and more about how they are handling this outbreak. Public shaming for any and all reasons is all too common. While it might be wise to simply dismiss the people making these comments as common trolls, it’s also important to make it unacceptable. Everyone is doing their best, and not everyone is shutting down, nor should they.
The Premier did a great job of \listing the sectors that would be closing and those that wouldn’t. It’s important for everyone to realize that an economy is based on jobs. Not every country has gotten it right. Not every elected leader has said the right things. But the focus should be on getting through this. Together. Be nice.
This week at the Future Ready: Business Summit 2020, hosted by the Peterborough Chamber and Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, there was a session called “What Happens If…”. While this session focussed on business partnerships, succession planning and managing stress, it could have easily included
the need for business to be prepared for emergencies, such as a COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, there was discussion amongst the event team on a health protocol. The protocol was developed and then communicated to attendees, along with signage at the event. That protocol is now on our website and all event pages as the safety and well-being of our members and community are of the utmost importance.
Some of the suggestions in the protocol include:
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has pulled together a five-page guide for businesses that will help them ask the questions that will ensure they are prepared. The guide is designed to assist business planning and continuity efforts. It includes links to some of the most relevant and credible information, best practice tools and resources.
The guide begins with the following overview:
"In addition to the work of the health care industry when a pandemic hits, businesses play a critical role in protecting the health and safety of employees, and limiting the negative impact on the economy and communities. They also need to have business continuity plans that will minimize the impact on the business itself and facilitate a speedy resumption of activities if the business has been forced to scale back or close during the pandemic. Preparedness, not panic, is the best way to mitigate the risks posed by a COVID-19 pandemic to the Canadian economy and our citizens.
Should COVID-19 escalate in Canada, some of the things businesses need to plan for include:
The guide breaks planning down into five sections:
Each of the first three sections has a series of questions that a business or organization should be asking themselves, such as:
The final two sections offer links to resources such as:
Locally, Peterborough Public Health also has extensive information and frequently asked questions on their website: peterboroughpublichealth.ca
A link to the Canadian Chamber guide for business can be found on our website:
The saying goes that if you don’t have a destination, any road will take you there. For Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED), their new strategic plan, launched this week, provides the road map to their newly minted destination; “To be the most sustainable and innovative community and economy in Ontario”.
Called Future Ready, the plan captures four objectives:
Much will depend on our ability to adapt to these many forces, but we have proven that we can adapt to change. No longer do we have 6,000 lunch pail workers at GE, or 1,500 driving down Highway 115 to GM. And yet, manufacturing is still one of our strongest pillars of the local economy, along with agriculture and tourism. Increasingly important are the cleantech, aerospace, the water and wastewater sector, the trades and technology centre at Fleming, a burgeoning entrepreneurial community and more. We call it TeamPtbo, and collaboration between all of these elements will be critical in helping PKED deliver on its strategy.
The Future Ready plan also has the United Nations report “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” in mind, particularly:
If you want to dig deeper into the plan, you’ll find 18 specific “Actions” to support the four main objectives. These include everything from creating a crisp, clear value proposition for the region; delivering a multi-year, multi-media marketing strategy and an earned media strategy; to developing customized strategies for growth in each targeted sector; championing investments in regional infrastructure; building on business attraction and retention programs; increasing connection between business leaders and college and
university students, to make staying in Peterborough an attractive option; to supporting our strong entrepreneurial culture, including working with under-represented groups such as First Nations, new Canadians, women and youth.
From the Chamber perspective, we have enjoyed a close working relationship with PKED, including the Future Ready Business Summit that we are partnering on next week (March 11). We look forward to continuing that partnership to help strengthen the business community in Peterborough.
The 2020 Ontario Economic Report (OER) was released recently. The report provides three areas of measurement: business confidence, the small business friendliness index (SBFI), and economic outlook for the various regions.
“The OER is a useful tool to inform government on where to reduce barriers and increase investment to support business competitiveness across the province,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve found that the confidence survey helps government understand its impact on business and we are looking forward to seeing how the measurables under the SBFI will help improve offerings for start-ups and growing businesses.”
Business confidence is measured by the confidence gap. The gap is the difference between business’ confidence in themselves and in Ontario’s economic outlook. In 2020, the gap widened to 37 points which is up from 31 points in 2018 and 2019. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) says the main areas of broad concern around confidence include the cost of doing business, the high cost of living and the province’s debt. The survey from which the confidence conclusions are drawn also identified that those with low confidence were also concerned with the national and/or global economic outlook.
When asked how the government could strengthen the province’s competitiveness responding
businesses identified the top four areas:
While the group at the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) is moving forward with their cell gap analysis and federal and provincial money for system upgrades has been made available, ensuring connectivity for residents and businesses at commonly accepted upload and download rates will continue to be a challenge.
Meanwhile, on built infrastructure the city is facing a deficit of $1.194 billion and the county around $135 million over ten years.
When businesses were asked about the factors critical to their own competitiveness, a business’ ability to recruit talent, navigate regulation and red tape and their ability to innovate were the top three.
The OCC says the confidence survey also reveals a shifting attitude toward technology as a driver of confidence.
The Small Business Friendliness Indicator (SBFI)
In the OER, the SBFI measures Ontario’s competitiveness from the perspective of small business.
For 2020, the SBFI score is -9, (on a scale of 100 to -100). This indicates that the business
environment poses some challenges for firms with fewer than 99 employees. Seven different metrics are used to determine the SBFI score including:
The scores for three metrics were positive: the helpfulness of the province in starting a business, the ease of licensing, and the delivery of useful training and networking programs from a variety of sources. The SBFI also revealed an eagerness on the part of small business to embrace more online services from government, especially with respect to regulatory compliance.
Interestingly enough, navigating regulation was identified as the top barrier to starting a business in Ontario.
The OCC says the data supports a long-time advocacy goal of the Chamber network: that small businesses will benefit from a modernized, client-centric relationship with government, rather than complicated new initiatives, grants, or subsidies that tend to have low uptake and awareness.
Overall, the economy in Ontario is expected to slow with real GDP growth of 1.9% in 2020. The OER suggests that household spending will remain tepid as household debt will restrain expenditures. Commercial capital investments fell in 2019 and the authors of the OER suggest this is the result of concern for the future. On the labour market side, in 2019, job growth reached the highest it has been in 20 years and the unemployment rate approached a near 30 year low. That said, the economic outlook section also notes regional disparity and the majority of growth contained to the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ottawa.
In the Muskoka-Kawartha Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) projections for 2020 are as
follows: the jobless rate will be 6.2%, up from 6.0% in 2019; employment will move from the negative to 0.6% and the population of the CMA will grow at a slightly slower rate of 1.2%, down from 1.3% in 2019.
Challenges related to accessing financial capital, attracting and retaining talent and burdensome regulations continue to compromise the ability of many of Ontario’s communities to compete effectively with other jurisdictions.
We hear these challenges from our members in the Peterborough business community along with the need for continued infrastructure investment that helps increase the economic capacity of communities such as built infrastructure and broadband.
The work of the Chamber will be to help inform the provincial policy landscape and encourage decision-making that makes our economy stronger for all.
“By the year 2020, the GPA will be sought out by many, and admired worldwide, as a uniquely healthy, diverse, enriched community which balances and promotes vibrant economic and employment opportunities while honouring the natural environment and valuing its cultural heritage. “
– That is the vision statement from GPA 2020 – A Vision for our Future. For those of you who are not familiar with it, it was a community engagement exercise like no other. Leading up to the final report in 1997, the steering committee led five action teams, each with co-chairs. Each action team was assigned 3 or 4 community sectors, each sector with 3 community at large volunteers. These volunteers spread out across the city and county and spoke with more than 2,000 residents and businesses.
It was an impressive effort, and it presented 26 recommendations in 12 areas designed to inform all levels of government – federal, provincial, City and County. The 12 areas included:
2020 is here. How does the reality stack up against the vision?