This week the provincial government announced its plan for ‘Ontario to Stay Open’ if there is a regression in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan, introduced by Prabmeet Sarkaria, President of the Treasury Board, is a welcome step. We need Ontario’s healthcare system and supply chains to be robust in facing down any new variants and have the capacity to avoid future lock-downs. TIAO and many of our partners have been calling for this sort of plan for some time and we welcome its introduction. However, it is important that two years into this pandemic, we must provide clarity and certainty on economic support for businesses if the worst is to happen. We need a plan to develop and increase our healthcare capacity and an efficient roll out of economic support for businesses if they’re asked to close again. I’m hopeful that all parties, as part of their election platforms, will come to a consensus view that both are essential for keeping our economy moving.
This morning, applicants to the Ontario Tourism Recovery Program (OTRP) started to receive their letters from the provincial government regarding their application status. After delays in the roll out of the program, we’re delighted to hear members confirm they have received decisions on their applications. TIAO thanks Minister Lisa MacLeod for her steadfast commitment to delivering this program and, as evidenced by it being oversubscribed, this funding is desperately needed. However, in a competitive application process such as the OTRP, we know there will be those who are left disappointed. If you feel your application has been incorrectly adjudicated, please contact the team and we would be happy to assist you.
The Federal Government has now confirmed that the Federal Budget will be delivered on April 7. I would like to thank all of you for your support in our lobbying campaign in support of TIAC and the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses for increased and extended support for the hardest hit sectors such as the tourism industry. You can read the template copy of the letter we sent to every Ontario MP here.
The Ontario provincial election is fast approaching and gives us the opportunity to once again make the case for the vital role that tourism will play in the economic recovery of our province. Last weekend the Ontario Liberal Party laid out a series of its economic priorities and pledges if it was to form the next government. Included in those pledges was a plan to ‘suspend corporate income tax for small businesses most impacted by COVID-19 for 2022 and 2023 – with relief scaled to losses in revenues and eliminated entirely for businesses that lost more than 50% of revenues as a result of the pandemic’.
It is pleasing to see that there is now an active conversation ongoing and acknowledgement that for some businesses, such as in tourism, our recovery will not be immediate. We look forward to reading more details on this policy and look forward to reading about the other political parties' plans to support our long-term recovery with prolonged economic supports that recognize the challenges we face on the front-line where obstacles to travel and poor consumer confidence continue to suppress demand and revenues.
Finally, this is a bittersweet day for the TIAO team as it is the last day of work for our Communications Coordinator, Chris Albrecht. Chris joined the TIAO team permanently after a very successful internship in 2021 having recently completing her studies in the 2-year Tourism – Marketing and Program Development program offered by Georgian College. Chris joined TIAO with more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry across Canada, as Chris chose to transition to a new career in the tourism industry combining her passion for customer service with her love for tourism and travel.
Chris has been an integral member of the TIAO team, often responsible for churning out complex analysis of government policy on our social media channels and website just moments after it was released. Chris has revolutionized our website, curated our weekly newsletter and has been a constant source of support for stakeholders at all hours. We will miss you Chris - not just because of your dedication and commitment to your work, but for everything you brought to our team. We’re thrilled that you’ve earned this incredible opportunity to do your dream job and travel the world!
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. As ever, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Christopher Bloore, President & CEO, TIAO