LAST UPDATED: November 30th, 2021
Current Press Updates From Your Government:
For the latest, up to date press releases from:
Prime Minister of Canada, please click here.
Ontario Government, please click here
City of Toronto, please click here.

This Page: Below is a collection of information shared with local businesses via our newsletter. To access our most recent Members Newsletters click here.

If you are a property owner or work for a business in a commercial space, located within our boundaries, and do not receive our e-newsletter, but would like to, please email

Select Topics Include:

  • GRANT: Commercial Space Rehabilitation Grant Program
  • Volunteer on a BIA Committee
  • 15% Property Tax Reduction to Small Businesses
  • St. Lawrence Market Precinct- Community Survey
  • City Council Makes CaféTO Permanent
  • Ontario Releases Plan to Safely Reopen
  • Enhanced Vaccine Certificate + Verification App for Businesses
  • CafeTO Curblane Removal
  • Vaccine Passport Signage
  • Ontario Releasing Guidance to Support Proof of Vaccination Policy
  • Check your property monthly for graffiti
  • Letter to restaurant operators from Toronto Public HealthPublic
  • COVID-19 Guidance: Food Premises
  • $2500 Digital Transformation Grant 3.0
  • Free health and safety training available for small businesses
  • COVID-19 screening kits to help businesses safely reopen
  • Rapid Testing For Businesses
  • Toronto Police Neighbourhood Officers Division 51
  • UPDATED & NEW: How to Report A Crime
  • Shelter at 45 The Esplanade – Info & Newsletter
  • Shelter at 45 The Esplanade – Who to call
  • Monthly Digital Main Street Webinars
  • Checklist: What to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19
  • DOWNLOAD & POST: Face Masks and Coverings Offer Best Protection & How to Safely Wear a Mask
  • Digital Main Street: Future Proof Program
  • POSTER: Mask Bylaw: poster & other important information for businesses
  • POSTER: Social Distancing Signage for businesses
  • Staff Screening Sheet
  • and more…

GRANT: Commercial Space Rehabilitation Grant Program
Added November 30th, 2021

The City of Toronto’s Commercial Space Rehabilitation Grant Program offers matching funding of 50% to commercial business operators and owners of storefronts that are vacant (or, in certain limited circumstances, at risk of becoming vacant) to undertake interior improvements, assisting businesses to re-lease space impacted by COVID-19. The maximum base grant under the program is $20,000 (based on a minimum of $40,000 of improvements).

The first round of applications will be accepted until February 28, 2022 or when funds are expended, whichever comes first.

Eligible Projects

  • Structural upgrades, interior light fixtures, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), plumbing, electrical, interior painting, flooring/ceiling/walls, permanently-affixed counters, merchandise displays and accessibility improvements, among others.
  • Architectural, engineering, certified Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) specialist and Building Code Identification Number (BCIN) registered designer fees may be covered to a maximum of $2,000 per application as part of the base grant.
  • Multi-unit properties are eligible for additional grant funding of up to $4,000 per unit for each additional unit for which improvements are proposed, to a maximum of $20,000.
  • Additional grant funding of up to $4,000 is available for interior accessibility improvements which meet Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) design standards.

A minimum of three eligible improvements must be made to each unit.

Volunteer on a BIA Committee
Added November 18th, 2021

Here at your local Business Improvement Area we appreciate the time and effort of our volunteer committee members. These volunteers meet on an as needed basis, (typically once or twice a year) and make themselves available via email and phone when needed.

Committees include:
Events and General Support Committee
Marketing and Promotions Committee
King East Design District Committee
Streetscape and Development Committee
Parks Committee
Member Services and Area Beautification Committee

If you would like to volunteer with one of our committees, please email Executive Director Al Smith at

15% Property Tax Reduction to Small Businesses
Added November 18th, 2021

City Council has voted to move forward with a 15 per cent property tax reduction to small businesses.

The new small business property tax subclass will come into effect for the 2022 tax year. It is estimated that property tax reductions will apply to approximately 25,000 small businesses across Toronto, or 60 per cent of all commercial properties.

Find out if you qualify, read examples and learn more by reading the full press release.

St. Lawrence Market Precinct- Community Survey
Added November 18th, 2021

The City of Toronto is undertaking a strategic plan that will help guide the future of the St. Lawrence Market Precinct and are currently conducting a survey that will help city staff and your elected officials better understand how to enhance the visitor experience at the Precinct. As a member of the BIA, you are strongly encouraged to complete the the survey and share with your co-workers.

Click here now to take the survey.

City Council Makes CaféTO Permanent
Added November 18th, 2021

Toronto City Council has approved a plan that will make the CaféTO program permanent while continuing to deliver needed business support to restaurants including waiving permit fees in 2022.

A public survey for restaurant operators, customers and the general public, which gathered over 10,00 responses showed overwhelming support for the program. Of those who participated, 91 per cent believed that extended sidewalk and curb lane cafés should be allowed in Toronto in the future.

A new registration process will be launched for future permanent CaféTO sidewalk cafés. The new process will be fast and streamlined and restaurant operators will only need to apply once for year-round expanded sidewalk cafés. Currently, existing temporary CaféTO sidewalk cafés can remain in place until April 14, 2022.

Please click here to read the full press release for more details and to view the City Staff report.

(Click here to download above chart.)

Ontario Releases Plan to Safely Reopen
Added October 25th, 2021

On Friday October 22nd the province announced the lifting of a number of restrictions and provided some insight into how we will proceed. You can read the FULL details here. Key dates are summarized below and include what restrictions plan to be lifted on those dates.

October 25, 2021
Ontario will lift capacity limits in the vast majority of settings where proof of vaccination are required, such as restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments, indoor areas of sports and recreational facilities such as gyms and where personal physical fitness trainers provide instruction; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and indoor meeting and event spaces.
At this time, the government will also allow other settings to lift capacity limits and physical distancing requirements if they choose to require proof of vaccination.
This will not apply to settings where people receive medical care, food from grocery stores and medical supplies.

November 15, 2021
The government intends to lift capacity limits in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including food or drink establishments with dance facilities.

January 17, 2022
In the absence of concerning trends in public health and health care following the winter holiday months and after students returned to in-class learning, the province intends to begin gradually lifting capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is not required.
Proof of vaccination requirements may also begin to be gradually lifted at this time.

February 7, 2022
The government intends to lift proof of vaccination requirements in high-risk settings, including night clubs, strip clubs, and bathhouses and sex clubs.

March 28, 2022
At this time, it is intended that remaining public health and workplace safety measures will be lifted, including wearing face coverings in indoor public settings.

For the full details please view the full press release by clicking here.

Enhanced Vaccine Certificate + Verification App for Businesses
Added October 15th, 2021

In advance of October 22, the Ontario government is making the enhanced vaccine certificate with official QR code and the free, made-in Ontario verification app for businesses, Verify Ontario, available for download.

To ensure a smooth user experience, the province is initially making the enhanced vaccine certificates available for download in cohorts:

  • Oct 15, 12am – 11:59pm: people born between Jan and Apr
  • Oct 16, 12am – 11:59pm: people born between May and Aug
  • Oct 17, 12am – 11:59pm: people born between Sept and Dec

(Starting Oct 18 at 6am, the portal will open for any individual to download their enhanced vaccine certificate, regardless of their birth month.)

The current vaccine receipt without a QR code remains valid and will continue to be accepted with ID. 

To prepare, businesses and organizations can now download the free Verify Ontario app. The app has been designed to help businesses by making it quicker and easier to confirm if a person is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

CafeTO Curblane Removal
Added October 14th, 2021

Please note that the City of Toronto’s CafeTO department has notified the BIA that all curblane CafeTO installations we be removed starting November 7th, 2021. Please have everything owned by your business removed from the curblane, by end of business the day prior.

Businesses operating a CafeTO curblane installation should receive an email directly from CafeTO. Be sure to check the in-box and junk mail folder for the email address you used to apply to CafeTO this year.

Questions? Please contact CafeTO directly at

Vaccine Passport Signage
Added September 22nd, 2021

Effective Sept 22 2021 Ontario will require proof of vaccination to access select settings. Please find below some links to business signage and additional resources.

Ontario’s Proof of Vaccination Page:

Business Signage:

Ontario Releasing Guidance to Support Proof of Vaccination Policy
Added September 15th, 2021

The Ontario government has released guidance for businesses and organizations to support them in implementing proof of vaccination requirements, which take effect on September 22, 2021.

Businesses are responsible for ensuring they meet the requirements regarding proof of identification and proof of vaccination.

The guidance document can be found here  and explains what types of businesses are impacted (page 3), the steps required when reviewing a vaccine receipt (page 8), exemptions (page 4). You are encouraged to review the entire document.

NOTE: An enhanced vaccine certificate and verification app will be available by October 22, 2021. Ontario’s proof of vaccination guidance will be updated to reflect the new processes.

To read the full press release this post is based on (and learn how to obtain your vaccination receipt), please click here.

Check your property monthly for graffiti
Added August 26th, 2021

Graffiti has been and will continue to be an ongoing issue in our city. Here in Old Town Toronto your local BIA spends time weekly reporting graffiti on publicly owned assets, such as utility boxes, Canada Post boxes, parking meters etc. We also over this past year have invested in cleaning up to 65 graffitied Toronto Hydro poles per month. These actions/programs help lower the number of “tags” visible in our neighbourhood, helping to create a more welcome environment for all, but we cannot do it alone.

All businesses and property owners are encouraged to maintain their property on an ongoing basis in accordance with Chapter 485, which states “The owner or occupant of property shall maintain the property free of graffiti vandalism.” Failure to do so can result in the city serving a notice to comply. If the notice is not adhered to, the city can opt to do the work and add the cost to the property’s taxes. (Read the chapter for full explanation.)

Be proactive. Check your property monthly and clean off any graffiti in a timely fashion. Together we can help keep Old Town Toronto a welcoming area. Thank you for your ongoing efforts!

To report graffiti, please email the City of Toronto with the address and a photo at

Letter to restaurant operators from Toronto Public Health
Added August 26th, 2021

Toronto Public Health issued this letter last week. In it they note that businesses are required to continue following applicable requirements in Step 3 of the Reopening Ontario Act to reduce opportunities for virus spread.

They also note that to date most inspected businesses are following the rules, but here are the most common issues they are seeing:

A) Active screening of employees as well as patrons who dine-in the indoor and/or outdoor dining areas is not implemented or adequate.

B) Personal protective equipment (PPE) that covers the person’s eyes, nose and mouth is not worn by employees when indoors, as required.

C) Safety plans are not available or address all required elements listed in the provincial Regulation.

D) Capacity signage, indicating capacity limits, is not available or posted in conspicuous locations.

E) Customer information is not collected or not collected adequately.

F) Mask or face covering policy is not available or does not address the elements required under the Mask Bylaw 541-2020.

Please take a moment to read the full letter now and ensure you are complying with all regulations.

Click here now for the letter.

COVID-19 Guidance: Food Premises
Added August 4th, 2021

The City of Toronto updated their website to include the most up to date Covid-19 guidance for restaurants and other food related businesses on July 29th at 2:05pm.

It provides some clarity and interpretation to help you comply with all applicable legislative requirements under provincial and municipal law. It also includes links to sample resources such as Patron Screening Posters, Safety Plan Checklists, Maximum Occupancy Signs and other usable resources.

A few topics included / explained are:

  • Active Screening of Patrons
  • Entrance and Line Management
  • Customer Records
  • Tents, Canopies and Retractable Roofs
  • Capacity
  • Cleaning and Disinfection
  • Safety Plan
  • Live Entertainment
  • and more…

$2500 Digital Transformation Grant
Added July 21, 2021

Digital Main Street (DMS) is a program focused on assisting small businesses with their adoption of technologies. The Digital Transformation Grant (DTG) program will provide funding for training, advisory support, and grants to brick-and-mortar small businesses looking to increase their capacity through digital transformation.

To learn more and see if you qualify, click here and scroll down. Want to book a free meeting with DMS Squad Member Chelsea to learn more about Digital Main Street? Click here to book a meeting or email her at

Toronto City Council repeals some COVID-19 bylaws related to Step Three reopening
Added July 21, 2021

Toronto City Council approved the repeal of bylaws that regulated physical distancing in City of Toronto parks and public squares, as well as a section of a bylaw related to licensing that implemented additional COVID-19 measures for food and drink establishments.

The repeal of the bylaws was based on a report from Toronto Public Health that took into consideration Toronto’s current epidemiological context, as well as overlap with the COVID-19 regulations contained in Step Three of the Government of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen. These current provincial regulations include capacity limits for both indoor and outdoor dining, require employee screening, and make it mandatory for premises to keep customer logs for at least one month. The regulations also requires that there be physical distancing and masks worn in lines and indoors.

All Toronto businesses are expected to review and familiarize themselves with the Step Three provincial regulations in the Reopening Ontario Act.

Free health and safety training available for small businesses
Added July 21, 2021

The Ontario government is rolling out a new Small Business Health and Safety Training Program to improve health and safety awareness and help prevent illnesses and injuries. The program provides training for health and safety representatives of small businesses on how to keep workers safe in the retail, construction, health care, accommodation and food services, and other sectors. Businesses will be reimbursed for the time the representatives are away from work.

Click here to learn more.

Ontario moving to Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen on July 16th
Added July 12, 2021

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health the Ontario government is moving the province into Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16, 2021.

Step Three of the Roadmap focuses on the resumption of additional indoor services with larger numbers of people and restrictions in place.

Face coverings in indoor public settings and physical distancing requirements remain in place throughout Step Three. This is in alignment with the advice on personal public health measures issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada, while also accounting for Ontario specific information and requirements. Face coverings will also be required in some outdoor public settings as well.

Step 3 restrictions include, but are not limited to:

  • Indoor dining permitted with no limits on the number of patrons per table with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect;
  • Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities to open subject to a maximum 50 per cent capacity of the indoor space. (Capacity for indoor spectators is 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less. Capacity for outdoor spectators is 75 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less.)
  • Essential and non-essential retail with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Personal care services, including services requiring the removal of a face covering, with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Indoor meeting and event spaces permitted to operate with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect and capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people, (whichever is less);
  • Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos/bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions, festivals, with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors;
  • Concert venues, cinemas, and theatres permitted to operate at:
    – up to 50 per cent capacity indoors or a maximum limit of 1,000 people for seated events (whichever is less)
    – up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors or a maximum limit of 5,000 people for unseated events (whichever is less); and up to 75 per cent capacity outdoors or a maximum of 15,000 people for events with fixed seating (whichever is less).
  • Real estate open houses with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres; and
  • Indoor food or drink establishments where dance facilities are provided, including nightclubs and restobars, permitted up to 25 per cent capacity or up to a maximum limit of 250 people (whichever is less).

Please review the regulation for the full list of public health and workplace safety measures that need to be followed.

COVID-19 screening kits to help businesses safely reopen
Added June 16, 2021

The City of Toronto has partnered with the Toronto Region Board of Trade to provide free COVID-19 rapid screening kits to small- and medium-sized businesses across Toronto.

Use of rapid screening kits by employees of small- and medium-sized businesses can help identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, thereby reducing the spread of COVID-19 in those workplaces, at home and in the community.

Eligible businesses can visit  to order their initial four-week supply of testing kits from the Toronto Region Board of Trade and book a time slot for pickup.

To make it easier for eligible businesses to participate in this voluntary initiative, the rapid screening kits will be available for scheduled pickup at the following locations beginning Friday, June 18:

  • Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall
  • North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St.
  • Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Dr.
  • Fort York Visitor Centre, 250 Fort York Blvd.

These distribution sites will be open for scheduled pickups by appointment only from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This initiative is one of several ways that employers in Toronto can obtain rapid tests for their staff. Other opportunities include:

Find the full press release by clicking here.

Step One – Contact Tracing Required Of Restaurants
Added June 14, 2021

According to City of Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 545, Article 1, Section 545-8.4.1:

(4) Maintain a customer log that:

(a) Records customer information, in a legible manner, consisting of the name and email address and/or telephone number of every person in the party, not including children residing in the same household as an adult in the party that attends an indoor or outdoor area of the premises where food or drink is served or consumed. The record shall include the date the person attended, the party’s check in and check out times, and the party’s table number or, if there is no table number, the location on the premises where the party was seated and was served or consumed food or drink;

(b) Is stored securely for one month and then destroyed

  1. c) Is produced on request of the Medical Officer of Health or their designate for the purpose of COVID-19 contact tracing or other public health purposes, in accordance with the Health Protection and Promotion Act

Break & Enter Crime Stats
Added May 20, 2021

Toronto Police Services Division 51 recently shared some numbers on Break & Enter reports. They have broken it down into hard numbers below for commercial and residential, however, combined year-to-date Break & Enters have decreased by 21%. Note: An increase in storage locker/bicycle storages has been observed.

Commercial Break & Enters totalled 27 from April 10th to May 9th. Hot spots in division 51 for Commercial break and enters included:
Yonge Street (Queen to Gould)
Parliament and Winchester
Church and Shuter
Church and Front

Residential Break & Enters totalled 33 from April 10th to May 9th. Hot spots in division 51 for Residential Break and Enters included:
-The block defined by Yonge/Dundonald/Church/Wellesley
-Wellesley Place Road

It is imperative that members report all instances of crime. Every time. When crime goes unreported, police do not have the accurate data needed to respond to our area’s needs over time. For example, your ongoing collective reports may help police see trends and know where and when to reallocate resources. Many reports can now be done quickly online, 24 hours a day at:

To learn more about how to report, please click here to access and print the How To Report A Crime Info Card here:

Interested in discovering more data? Visit

Rapid Testing For Businesses
Added May 20, 2021

The government has launched a new rapid testing portal making it easier for all essential businesses to participate in its free Provincial Antigen Screening Program-with rapid testing kits being shipped directly to businesses to help screen for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 and keep essential workers safe.

Businesses can check if they qualify and register to participate at:

This is one more way that businesses can help workers and their families stay safe and keep the virus out of workplaces. Program eligibility was recently expanded to include any business that is allowed to be open and requires staff to work on-site.

Should you have any questions please feel free to contact Natalia Tkacz,
Director of Stakeholder Relations at

Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant
Added May 20, 2021

The Ontario government is providing one‐time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to support eligible small tourism and travel businesses struggling to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through the new $100-million Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant.

This grant will support eligible small tourism and travel businesses that did not receive the Ontario Small Business Support Grant (OSBSG), such as travel agents, hotels, motels, resorts, and bed and breakfasts. To qualify, businesses must have fewer than 100 employees and demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline between 2019 and 2020.

For information on eligibility and how to apply:

Restaurant and Bar Support Fund
Added May 12, 2021

Restaurant and Bar Support Fund, was launched to provide one-time grants to financially assist food and beverage establishments throughout Ontario. Their target is to raise $5 million to assist a minimum of 1,000 Ontario food and beverage businesses through 2021.

They are a small group of concerned business owners who are managing a not-for-profit fund with a simple goal to help save as many Ontario food and beverage establishments and jobs as possible. This is a private sector relief effort that will keep doors open.

They are seeking both business and individual support for the Fund – to join and provide financial relief to restaurant and bar small business owners. Businesses can become corporate partners. Individuals can donate the cost of a night out at their favourite restaurant.

Please click here to find background information on the Fund, including a letter they have been sending to businesses that may be interested in participating.

Toronto Police Neighbourhood Officers Division 51
Added Apr. 29, 2021

Toronto Police Services (TPS) Division 51 recently divided the division up into neighbourhood boundaries (see below). Each neighbourhood has minimum 4 Neighbourhood Officers assigned to it. This does not replace officers that work across the entire division.

If you have a persistent problem (for example, a recurring trespass issue) that Neighbourhood Officers should be aware of and can assist with, have information about concerns in the community etc, please use the below email to alert them.

Old Town Toronto is located in The Waterfront Neighbourhood. Our Community Officers can be reached by email at

IMPORTANT: Please do NOT use this email as a replacement to calling 911 in an emergency or 416-808- 2222 in a non-emergency situation. Those are your first line of defence. To learn more, please click here to access and print the How To Report A Crime Info Card.

All Neighbourhoods:

UPDATED & NEW: How to Report A Crime
Added Apr. 1, 2021

The Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) and other local organizations recently updated the How To Report A Crime infographic.

Your neighbours, local businesses and Toronto Police need your help. If you see something, say something, using this handy How To Report Crime graphic. The easiest way to advocate for more police in our area is to show TPS where their services are needed, by filing reports, so resources can be allocated better.

Download, print and post this handy How To Report A Crime graphic next to your phone or computer. To download the graphic here please visit:

Many reports can now be done quickly online, 24 hours a day at
Here you can report issues such as:
-Damage to property/vehicle under $5000
-Theft or fraud under $5000
-Theft from vehicle under $5000
-Neighbourhood driving complaint
-and more!

Insurance Location Help For Hospitality Industry
Added Mar. 11, 2021

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has launched a new Business Insurance Action Team (BIAT) to support small businesses in Ontario’s hospitality sector that are having difficulty finding insurance as a result of the pandemic.

How does BIAT work? BIAT will help to find viable insurance solutions for as many small restaurants, bars, pubs and banquet halls in Ontario as possible. BIAT consists of three steps:

1: Working with their insurance representative – e.g., an insurance broker, agent or managing general agent (MGA) – a business owner that is unable to find insurance submits an application to BIAT. (Don’t currently have an insurance broker? Click here for resources to help you find a broker within your region.)

2: A risk manager determines if the application meets the eligibility requirements. If it does, the risk manager assesses the applicant’s risk profile and makes risk control and loss-prevention recommendations to improve the insurability of the applicant’s business. The applicant, through their insurance representative, must commit to undertake the risk control and loss-prevention recommendations within an agreed upon time period.

3: The applicant’s insurance representative subsequently works with a BIAT insurer to secure insurance coverage for the applicant. An applicant is not obligated to accept coverage from BIAT, and there is no guarantee that all businesses can obtain coverage.

It is the industry’s priority to ensure consumers can find coverage and preferably without the involvement of BIAT. BIAT coverage will not be as comprehensive as the coverage found through the regular insurance market.

Shelter at 45 The Esplanade – Info & Newsletter
Added Mar. 11, 2021

A few of our members have reached out about the new shelter at 45 The Esplanade. We wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what we have shared with them on this topic. (Be sure to also see the post below about who to call and when, when you observe an issue.)

1) We ARE disappointed that this area of downtown takes on a disproportionate responsibility for the City’s social obligations. What we have always advocated FOR is a transition in policy from temporary shelters to permanent housing. In many ways the city is presenting this program at 45 The Esplanade as a piece of a strategy that addresses this desire, with supports on site to help transition it’s residents into permanent housing. If this strategy is successful the city can increase the long-term usability and security of our neighbourhood public spaces by removing unwanted uses (tents, etc.) leaving our parks, boulevards, and plazas more welcoming to all.

2) The BIA was not consulted prior to the placement of this shelter at 45 The Esplanade, nor the shelter at 56 Yonge Street. We will be very active in ensuring that any negative side-effects of the shelter at 45 The Esplanade are identified by the community liaison committee. You can click here to read a recent Community Bulletin from 45 The Esplanade from the shelter’s operators for more information, including contact info.

3) The original shelter on 98 The Esplanade will be closed and their residents will be moved to the new shelter.

4) The new shelter at 45 The Esplanade differs from the old one at 98 The Esplanade as it is not a drop in centre, and has numerous supports for its clients such as job and housing placements, programs for mental illness and drug addiction, and most importantly a more robust security detail with patrolling security details.

5) We have been advocating for neighbourhood community Toronto Police officers for a long time now and recently learned that two new officers have been assigned to a newly identified neighbourhood, Queen to the waterfront and the width of TPS 51Division. The Neighbourhood Officer program has advantages as these officers cover a smaller area than regular officers and therefore get to know the area better.

6) Safety and security is not an issue unique to our area, but rather has crossed into many, if not all, neighbourhoods across our city. In that respect we have ongoing discussions with our councillor, the mayor’s office, the police, and the downtown core BIAs to investigate solutions together to address the issues.

7) We are also asking for help from our residents and businesses as well to be proactive as possible.

  • Ensure your outdoor and indoor lighting when you are closed are functioning properly.
  • Check your security camera connection and ensure there are no issues.
  • If you have not already, familiarize yourself with the online reporting tool with Toronto Police Services to be used for non emergency items ( As this process unfolds if there are issues, it is crucial that you and your neighbours report every instance of crime, no matter how small or frequent it is. The more reports in the system the better. It will help police allocate resources to the right area AND illustrates to them and city council when reviewed what sort of impact has been experienced.
  • You may also reach out to our councillor in the event of any concerns (Councillor Wong-Tam ) so that she understands the breadth of any issues. Please note, before reaching out to the councillor ensure you have reported any criminal issues to Toronto Police using the link above and always call 911 in case of an emergency

Shelter at 45 The Esplanade – Who to call
Added Mar. 11, 2021

A number of inquiries have been made to the shelter at 45 The Esplanade regarding neighbourhood situations, and who to call and when. You are encouraged to click here now to download a PDF version of the above contact chart. Take time to print, read and post this chart near your phone or computer.

Proposed changes to The Esplanade & Mill Street
Added Mar. 4, 2021

As covered in blogTO, and explained in this video, the City of Toronto has proposed changes to how we all use The Esplanade and Mill Street in order to improve safety. The proposed changes would require area residents, businesses and visitors to adapt to how we use these streets.

If you missed participating in any of the public and or stakeholder meetings you can click here to review the slide deck from the City of Toronto outlining the plans, reasoning and more.

To add your comments please be sure to complete the City of Toronto feedback form no later than March 16th, 2021.

Community Engagement: Shelters
Added Mar. 4, 2021

The City is currently undertaking a third-party review of its community engagement process for new shelter and other services for people experiencing homelessness. This review will identify what currently works well and what can be improved.

There are two ways you can provide input into the Community Engagement Review:
1.    Participate in an anonymous online survey
2.    Participate in a virtual focus group

If you are interested in either of these opportunities, please visit the Welcoming New Shelters web page for more information and instructions on how to participate.

If you have any questions about the Community Engagement Review or how to participate, please contact Amber Krogel, one of the consultants supporting the Community Engagement Review, at

Monthly Digital Main Street Webinars
Added Mar. 4, 2021

Last month we offered two free online workshops with Digital Main Street. These were small intimate workshops just for our local business owners/operators/staff. DMS also offers their own FREE monthly workshops. Read the description of each below and visit the included links to learn more and choose an upcoming date to attend by clicking register. Feel free to forward this to any other businesses you know who might be interested.

Web Presence 101: Your customers are on the web. Having a strategy for your online presence allows you to market your small business online so customers can easily find you. In this workshop hosted by the Toronto Digital Service Squad we’ll discuss the importance of getting your business online and where to start with developing your online presence.

Find out what you will learn and pick a date to sign up for by visiting the link below. 

Social Media for Your Business: Social media is an invaluable tool for today’s business, whether you are just starting out or have been established for years. Not understanding how to use social media effectively can leave you overwhelmed and ultimately hurt your bottom line as your potential customers can easily find your competitors. This workshop hosted by the Toronto Digital Service Squad will leave you with a better understanding of how to leverage the power of social media to grow your online community, drive sales and reduce marketing costs.

Find out what you will learn and pick a date to sign up for by visiting the link below.

eCommerce 101: What, Why, and How: More consumers than ever before are turning to online shopping for greater convenience, safety, and variety. In this webinar, the Toronto Digital Service Squad will teach you the basic steps to setting up an online store. We will cover everything from what you need to prepare before launching a store, to choosing an e-commerce platform, to providing excellent customer service online. You’ll finish this session feeling excited about how e-commerce can help you reach new customers and expand into different markets.

Find out what you will learn and pick a date to sign up for by visiting the link below.

CafeTO Registration & FAQ
Updated Mar. 3, 2021
Added Feb. 26, 2021

CafeTO registration is now open with the City of Toronto at (Please review the guidebook linked on the CafeTO page and here before applying.) Please also see our FAQ below before you register. If you were part of the program last year the City of Toronto likely already emailed you a reminder to apply. Round #1 of applications are due no later than March 26th. Please see FAQ below for more details.

Below we try to answer questions you likely already have.

If I applied last year do I have to apply again this year?

What is the deadline to apply?
Old Town Toronto businesses are strongly urged to apply during Round #1 of the application process (February 26th to March 26th), especially if they are applying for a curb lane patio. Only those who apply by March 26th will have their curb lane patios installed by the May long weekend.

Round #2 applications will begin being accepted March 27th and will be accepted for approx one month.

Where do I apply?
The application and guide will be live starting February 26 at

Is the guidebook the same as last year?
NO – The CaféTO guidebook has been updated. You are strongly advised to review it in detail BEFORE applying. The guidebook will be available on Friday on the CafeTO website.

What insurance do I need?
You will be required to submit a complete Certificate of Insurance. Comprehensive Liability Coverage of at least $1,000,000 is required. A blank copy of the CaféTO Certificate of Insurance PDF is available for download from the insurance tab at

Who needs to know I am applying?
Along with applying directly to CafeTO, please advise the BIA of your intent to apply by emailing

What will I need to apply?
1)  City of Toronto Eating Establishment Licence Number – starts with B71.
2)  Completed Certificate of Insurance with $1,000,000 coverage – liability only.
3)  City of Toronto Café Permit Number (only needed from existing cafés/patios) – starts with R57.
4) A Letter of Permission from an adjacent tenant and/or property owner, (only if you would like to expand your sidewalk cafe,  not curb lane cafe, in front of an adjacent property.)
5) There will be additional requirements for applicants looking to install temporary platforms/decks in the curb lane. To start the process of applying for a road deck you will need to provide two clear photos showing where the deck will go. Once CafeTO advises you that the area is usable, they will then explain what further documentation you will be required to provide in order to attain a building permit. This will include plans, and stamped design drawings. You are advised to not go out and pay for these until it is determined if your curb lane even qualifies for a deck. Read more about decks below.

Please refer to the guide book / application for any other application needs.

If I don’t have everything needed to apply, should I start the application now and update my application later?
NO – Whether you apply on the first day the application portal opens or wait until the last day of the first round (March 26th) does not matter. Instead, focus on ensuring you have the required documents, insurance etc and apply as soon as you have it all. This will help cut down on back and forth for you and the CafeTO team and will help eliminate the potential of confusion. If you have questions or need clarification as you gather things, feel free to email CafeTO using the email below.

What if I just want to install a fence, but no deck?
Good news, unlike the additional building permit you would need for a deck, fencing can be installed as long as it meets the dimensions outlined in the guidebook. Please refer to the guidebook for exact dimensions and placement direction before designing or purchasing fencing.

How will space be divided if there is more than one restaurant in a CafeTO curb lane enclosure?
When it comes to dividing up the curb lane CafeTO patio among multiple restaurants, the city will direct this public right of way space to be divided evenly. The roadway in front of your business is city property. Please understand that in some cases a businesses’ curb lane CafeTO patio section may not be directly in front of their property’s frontage. This is to ensure each business gets as equal of an area as possible. Businesses should prepare for this and are expected to act neighbourly. Businesses are allowed to share their space with each other based on their operating hours and other factors if both parties agree.

What should I make note of regarding decks?
1) If you plan to apply for a deck, you are urged to ensure you apply in the first round of CafeTO applications to avoid delays.
2) Ensure CafeTO green lights you having a deck at all BEFORE you invest in engineering drawings, as these can be costly.
3) If your deck is not approved in advance of the curb lane being closed, you must wait to build your deck, however, you can operate directly on the road surface within the enclosure.
4) If you are approved for a deck before the road closure is installed you cannot begin building your deck on the road until the curb lane is closed properly, (as this would be extremely dangerous.)
5) If your deck is in the way of the City and its contractors if road or utility maintenance is required you will be required to remove the deck at your own expense.

What if I want to expand a patio on private property, not on the sidewalk or road?
Good news, the updated guidebook will speak to this.

What hours can I operate my CafeTO patio?
Operating hours are dependent on what colour coded level we are in with the province as each colour coded level outlines the hours of operation allowed for businesses.

Can I install a tent or roof on my patio if I take it down at night?
NO – Structures will not be allowed on curb lane or CafeTO sidewalk patios.

What is the difference between Curb Lane, Frontage and Curbside patios?
The guide book will speak to this, but essentially:

  • Curb Lane = On the road in the first lane of traffic, with a set back from the second lane for bikes to get by.
  • Frontage = Literally against the frontage of your building.
  • Curbside = On the sidewalk next to the road’s curb. (Note this is the least likely to be permitted and has the most obstacles with many utilities present.)Please see the guidebook for the best explanation and example images.

Contact / Questions
If you have any questions about the CaféTO program after reviewing the guidebook, application and the website linked above, please contact the project team directly at and copy

Grey Lockdown Preparation for Retailers
Added Feb. 11, 2021
Updated Feb 19, 2021

Toronto will continue with the Stay-at-Home orders at least until Mon. Feb. 22, 2021, (with an extension always being possible) before moving to Grey-Lockdown. UDATE: Toronto will now be in Stay-at-Home orders at least until Monday March 8th, 2021. Click here for official press release from the government of Ontario. 

For those who will be allowed to open when we do enter Grey-Lockdown, it is important to understand what and how you can open and the actions you will need to take.

While gyms, personal services, restaurants etc. will not see changes, there will be changes to retail, allowing them to open with restrictions and strict actions to be followed. Businesses not opening during Grey-Lockdown are still encouraged to review the below to help them understand what types of actions they too may need to take when they are eventually allowed to open.

Grey-Lockdown Level
(Note the earliest expected date Toronto will move into Grey-Lockdown Level is Monday March 8th, 2021. Please wait for official announcements from local government.)

In person shopping permitted for retail sales, with capacity limits:

  • 50% capacity limit for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies continues.
  • 25% capacity limit for all other stores that engage in retail sales to the public, including, big box stores.
  • Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted.
    Store capacity limit to be posted publicly. (Post this on any entrances customers and staff may use.)

Signage/forms/actions businesses and organizations to use in conjunction with all other health recommendations:

  1. Post signs at all entrances informing the public on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 before entering.
    Click here for signage on how to screen yourself.
  2. Actively screen every person who works at the business or organization before they enter the premises.
    Click here for staff screening sheet from the City of Toronto and prepare to do this every shift.
  3. Actively screen patrons entering indoor malls
  4. Require individuals to maintain at least two metres of physical distance and wear a face covering
    Click here for a mandatory mask poster from the City of Toronto.
    Click here for 2m distance poster from the City of Toronto.

To review these requirements in their original official format/text please click here.
Click here for press release regarding moving to grey zone.

Checklist: What to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19
Added Jan. 29, 2021

The City has put together a COVID-19 guide for businesses and a checklist to guide employers in reporting workplace outbreaks of COVID-19. Please print, review and have ready the checklist so you do not have to search for it should you ever need it.

As per the Letter of Instruction from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, employers must immediately notify Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 as soon as they become aware of two or more people who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day interval in connection with their workplace premises.

Click here for checklist.

Grant – The New Ontario Small Business Support Grant
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

The Ontario government is announcing the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners.

Small businesses required to close or restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for this one-time grant. Each small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business.

Eligible small businesses include those that:

  • Are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the Provincewide Shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020;
  • Have less than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
  • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

Application Link:

Application Guide:

More information: available here.

Grant – Ontario Energy & Property Tax Rebates
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

Businesses that were required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures (in areas with modified Stage 2 restrictions or categorized as control/red or lockdown/grey) can apply for rebates, provided in the form of grants, to cover municipal/education property taxes and energy costs (electricity/natural gas/propane/home heating oil).

Click here to learn more.

Grant – Ontario’s COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

A one time, on-bill credit to eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments. Small business and registered charity customers may be eligible for up to $850 in support towards their electricity bill if they primarily use electricity for heating, or up to $425 otherwise. Small business and registered charity customers could also be eligible for up to $425 in support towards their natural gas bill.

Click here to learn more.

Grant – Ontario’s Digital Main Street Grant
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

This grant is for Digital Transformation training and guidance and provides the opportunity for main street businesses to apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to help their business launch and expand online, supporting small business e-commerce growth.

If you do decide to apply for the grant, here are a few things it could go towards:

-Digital Marketing
-Hiring a consultant/agency/person to execute Digital Marketing initiatives
-Redesign, Improvement of existing website
-Development of new website
-Graphic design software
-Productivity Software (LastPass, Hootsuite, Dropbox, etc.)
-Social Media Software (Hootsuite, Buffer, etc.)
-Security Software
-Other software as evidenced in the DTP

Our local Digital Service Squad (DSS) member is Chelsea Armstrong. Chelsea’s primary role is to help you on-board to the Digital Main Street platform and assess your digital needs. She can then help you gain a basic web presence or enhance your existing web presence by helping you activate easy-to-use tools such as Google My Business, social media, or setting-up a free trial of an e-commerce shop (through Shopify). For assistance with any of this, please reach out to Chelsea ASAP via email at

Click here to learn more.

Grant – Ontario’s Starter Company Plus Program
Updated Jan. 14, 2021

This program provides funding up to $5,000, one-on-one advice from a Small Business Advisor and 6 biweekly coaching sessions for businesses in their first 5 years in business. The program is accessed through the province’s 47 Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network locations.

Click here to learn more.

Ontario Permanently Allowing Alcohol with Food Takeout and Delivery
Added Dec. 16, 2020

The province is now permanently allowing licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order.

Additional permanent reforms for the hospitality sector will allow:

  • alcohol service on docked boats by operators with a liquor sales licence;
  • reduced minimum pricing of spirits consumed on-site, to align with the reduced pricing introduced for takeout and delivery orders;
  • the length of time for temporary patio extensions to be set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO); and,
  • for a requirement that ensures third parties delivering from licensed restaurants and bars have a delivery licence.

The requirements that apply to alcohol sales, service and delivery will continue to apply to boats with a liquor sales licence and liquor delivery services, including checking ID, Smart Serve training and not serving or selling to intoxicated people.

The province is also supporting businesses by:

  • removing restrictive rules to allow for the delivery of alcoholic beverages in food boxes and meal kits;
  • allowing eligible alcohol manufacturers to deliver their own products and charge a delivery fee;
  • allowing restaurants and bars to offer mixed cocktails and growlers as part of a takeout or delivery order; and,
  • permitting eligible manufacturers to sell spirits and 100 per cent Ontario wine at farmers markets.

Read the full press release by clicking here.

Face Masks and Coverings Offer Best Protection & How to Safely Wear a Mask
Added Dec. 14, 2020

The City of Toronto has published the above info graphics. Please review and share with your staff.  You can download each to print:



Thank you for doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our communities. For more tips on social distancing, please click here to download the city’s info sheet.

Government expands CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) loans by $20,000
Added Dec. 14, 2020

Starting on Friday, December 4, 2020, eligible businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are able to access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000 – on top of the initial $40,000 that was available to small businesses.

Half of this additional financing, up to $10,000, will be forgivable if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022.

This means the additional loan effectively increases CEBA loans from the existing $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 will be forgiven if the balance of the loan is repaid on time.

As announced in the Fall Economic Statement, the application deadline for CEBA has also been extended to March 31, 2021.

To apply, eligible businesses and not-for-profits need to contact the financial institution that provided their initial CEBA loan and provide the appropriate information and documentation. Click here for the full press release.

Cheat Sheet for Canada Emergency Rest Subsidy (CERS)
Added Dec. 3, 2020 

Members of the Kensington Market BIA, who have gone through the CERS application process themselves, worked with their BIA to assemble a cheat sheet on applying for CERS, based on their personal experiences. Take a look to see if it may help you. You can access the sheet by clicking here. Thank you to the Kensington Market BIA for sharing this tool.

In addition TABIA, (Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas) has also compiled an info sheet you can see by clicking here.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
Updated Dec 3, 2020
Added Nov. 23, 2020 

Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021.

This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.

If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also be eligible for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.

Please click here to learn who qualifies and how to apply.

UPDATE: Questions?
If you have questions about the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), there will be two sessions in English (Dec. 4th & Dec. 9th) as well as two sessions in French (Dec. 7th and Dec. 11th), all taking place from 1 – 2pm ET. Due to limited space, we recommend that you register as quickly as possible. Click here to REGISTER and learn more.

In addition to this, the CRA has launched CERS webpages, an online CERS calculator, and CERS infographics (Take a look at the new Canada Emergency Rent SubsidyThe Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy has got you covered, and We’re here to help) to assist organizations in preparing their applications.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support
Added Nov. 23, 2020

Above is a useful summary chart for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support. To access the actual website and learn more, please click here.

Please be sure to take advantage of these programs.

Lockdown Support for Businesses Facing Significant Public Health Restrictions (under CERS)
Added Nov. 12, 2020

On October 9, the government proposed new targeted, direct supports for businesses, non-profits and charities facing ongoing economic challenges amidst the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. For organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws), the government proposed a top-up under the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to provide additional support while they face lockdowns.

Learn more by clicking here.

UPDATE ON: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Extension
Added Nov. 12, 2020

The government is proposing to further extend the wage subsidy program until June 2021 and implement other enhancements to the program to better respond to the evolving economic and health situation. These proposed changes will make the program more flexible and more generous, and ensure that the program provides continued support to employers.

Details of the program until December 19, 2020 are provided here. The government will provide details for the upcoming periods in advance of the current terms’ expiry and will ensure the wage subsidy program continues to be responsive to the economic situation.

Click here to learn more.

UPDATE ON: Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
Added Nov. 12, 2020

On October 9, the government proposed the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to provide direct relief to businesses, non-profits, and charities that continue to be economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rent subsidy would be available retroactive to September 27, 2020, until June 2021.

The government is providing the proposed details for the first 12 weeks of the program, until December 19, 2020.

Click here to learn more.

PATIO UPDATE: Important Steps To Keep Outdoor Dining Safer
& Extension of Winter Patio Program 

Stay Safe:
1) Coverings (e.g. roof/tent) must have 2+ sides open to the outdoors.
2) Separate customers seated at different tables by at least 6 feet/2 metres.
3) Staff/customers must wear a mask inside (e.g. washrooms) & are recommended to wear one outside.
4) Enclosed dome coverings are not allowed while indoor dining is prohibited, (see item 1# above.)
5) Frequently clean & disinfect all potentially contaminated surfaces.
6) Post Coovid-19 screening sign & keep a log with staff / customer contact info.

Winter Patios:
Toronto City Council has approved the extension of the winter patio program for curbside (not curb lane) cafes and expanded private patios. The full press release can be found here.

More information, including new guidelines, will become available early November at

Homelessness & Encampments – Take Action

Before the COVID-19 global pandemic, Toronto was already facing a homelessness crisis of massive proportion. During the pandemic, the crisis has become more visible and incredibly more acute.

Issues contributing to homelessness, mental health and addictions are all within the legislative jurisdiction of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Without the active participation from the other orders of government, Toronto will be unable to meet the demand for affordable and supportive housing, an overdose epidemic, mental health and public safety issues.

Take action by using the pre-populated email found on City of Toronto Councillor Wong-Tam’s website to help draw more attention to this issue. Simply click here and scroll down to the form.

Restaurants invited participate in ToGoToronto for FREE is up and running again to support the economic recovery of the restaurant community. The platform provides an easy way for Toronto residents to find restaurants that are open for safe takeout or delivery. Register for free to add your restaurant.

Learn more here:

City of Toronto partnering with Ritual to launch Open For Business

The City of Toronto is extending its partnership with Ritual to launch Open For Business, a collaboration to help small businesses across Toronto increase online delivery sales.

As part of the initiative – which also includes food delivery service DoorDash – the digital ordering platform Ritual ONE is available to any Toronto business at no cost through the end of this year. In addition, Toronto businesses will receive two weeks of free delivery from DoorDash from October 26 to November 8.

Any business that completes one delivery order on Ritual ONE powered by DoorDash Drive by December 31 will also receive Ritual ONE for free through 2021.

Learn more by clicking here.

Patio Heaters Fire Prevention

During the recent Fire Prevention Week, the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA), the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and the Canadian Propane Association partnered to educate the hospitality industry and the public about potential fire and carbon monoxide hazards associated with the improper use of patio heaters.

Please review this important press release and the guidelines you should post in your staff room.

REMINDER: Keep these units locked up outside at night to avoid theft. See Safety Guide for rules, regulations and additional storage information.

$2000 in FREE LED Interior Lighting Upgrades

Don’t miss your chance to receive up to $2,000 in free LED interior lighting upgrades to your business.

LED lighting upgrades can save you up to 20% on your electricity costs.

Email or call Nick Brown, Energy Manager of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas to be connected with a program representative who will schedule a free lighting assessment to determine what lighting upgrades you are eligible for.

Nick can be reached at or (416) 886-1244.

Role of employer during a workplace COVID-19 outbreak
Are you ready for an outbreak? Here is what you need to do now and during an outbreak:

1) Develop a preparedness and response plan in the event someone becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19.

2) Communicate with employees and business partners early and often to ensure accurate information is being shared.

3) Keep a list of the names and contact information of all participants at in-person meetings or events. Toronto Public Health will use this list to notify and provide instructions for close contacts to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

4) Any personal information that is collected for COVID-19 contract tracing can only be used for this purpose, unless an individual provides their consent. Records should only be kept for 30 days, and then shredded.

5) Contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 for guidance if you have been notified that an employee has tested positive and/or you have concerns that employees may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the workplace.

6) Provide Toronto Public Health with contact information of exposed employees and customers to assist with contact tracing.

7) If a staff member, client or customer has tested positive for COVID-19, Toronto Public Health will interview the person to determine if he/she was contagious while on your premises. Consent is obtained from the employee before disclosing personal health information to the employer.

8) Clean and disinfect surfaces that may have been touched by the sick employee as soon as possible.

9) Additional public health advice in the event of an outbreak may include additional cleaning and disinfecting measures to reduce the risk of spread in the setting.

10) Follow public health guidance on additional preventive measures.

11) Support employees who need to be absent from work due to illness or being a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19.

12) Maintain confidentiality of employees’ personal health information.

13) Report to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) if you have been advised that one of your employees has tested positive due to exposure at the workplace.

14) Encourage staff to download the COVID Alert app so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.

For more please visit:

POSTER: Covid-19 Alert App to post

The City of Toronto is sharing the above poster and asking all businesses to consider posting in a highly visible area. You can download the poster by clicking here. Additional posters can be located by clicking here.

Toronto Hydro’s COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Businesses (CEAP-SB)

The Government of Ontario has introduced the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) to support small business and registered charity customers struggling to pay their electricity bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CEAP-SB provides a one-time, on-bill credit to eligible customers in need of financial assistance during this time.

Learn more:

Digital Main Street has officially launched the Future Proof Program

We have told you before about the many resources Digital Main Street offers businesses. Today we are excited to share information on their new program, called Future Proof, which will help businesses adapt, change and grow, in a world impacted by Covid-19.

Future Proof is a program that assists businesses with identifying new markets, pivoting their business model, and developing and implementing a deep digital transformation plan.

The program is meant as a detailed deep dive to support businesses that require support in either transforming their business model or developing and implementing an advanced digital transformation plan.

There are 3 streams:

1) TRANSFORMATION TEAMS: The Business Transformation Teams will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that help existing main street firms adapt to changes in their respective sector.

2) DIGITAL MAIN STREET LAB: The Digital Main Street Lab is focused on building collaborations between technology companies and communities to pilot innovations that encourage transformational change along main street for businesses.

3) COMMUNITY COLLABORATION PROJECTS: The Community Collaboration Projects will connect regional innovation centres and other community-based organizations in a series of conversations that will reveal common issues facing small and medium main street businesses and focus on developing workable solutions.

Learn more at

PPE discount for members via group buy

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment and supplies) have become staple items for running just about any business.

The Ontario Government and the City of Toronto have lists of potential suppliers you can check out, (see Toronto / Ontario Lists of PPE Suppliers heading below.) Plus now a local company by the name of Evrlinx is offering BIAs a discount on PPE.

Evrlinx helps businesses access better pricing through group buying. They gather orders from businesses, just like yours, and every two weeks place bulk orders with their suppliers at a discount, which they pass onto you. (You receive your order typically one to two weeks after you place it, depending on where Evrlinx is in their order cycle. Their internal order cycle resets every other Thursday.)

To learn more please visit and choose St. Lawrence Market as your BIA. Questions? Please call Evrlinx at 613-659-3604 or email

If you decide to order from Evrlinx please let us know what you think of the product and service. Who you order your PPE from is 100% up to you. This is not an official endorsement of one or any specific suppliers. Thank you for keeping health and safety top of mind as we all navigate Covid-19.

ShopHERE giving Toronto’s independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store.

Covid-19 has highlighted for businesses how important it is to have an online presence. To address this, Digital Main Street is collaborating with Google, Shopify, Mastercard and Microsoft to build and optimize online stores for small independent businesses and artists in just a matter of days. The ShopHERE program is free for participants to sign up and have a Shopify store built. Businesses will be responsible for the monthly Shopify fee after the initial 90-day trial.

What do I get?
As part of the program you get…

1) An online store customized with your information, branding, logo, etc.
2) Hands-on assistance setting up and launching your online store.
3) Training to support your online store, including topics such as digital marketing, shipping and inventory management.
4) Access to free tools to help support the launch of you online store.

Signage: Mask Bylaw: poster & other important information for businesses

Masks to be worn indoors.
Wearing a mask or face covering is required in indoor public spaces in the City of Toronto as of July 7, 2020.  With some exceptions, all customers or visitors entering an indoor public premise are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside.

Please ensure that…

  • Masks and face coverings cover your nose, mouth and chin, without gapping.
  • Wash your hands before and after putting on your mask, and again after removal, (to reduce cross contamination.)
  • Store your mask in a clean paper bag, (to stop cross contamination.)
  • Wash your mask (and hands) regularly.

As a business you must:

  1. Create a mask policy for your establishment. Click here and see page 3 for a sample.
  2. Communicate this new policy to staff and customers.
  3. Train your staff on the policy and who is exempt.
  4. Post signs at all entrances reminding everyone to wear a mask and must include the language used in the bylaw. Click here to download a pre-made sign with the mandatory wording.

Please note: All staff, customers or visitors must wear a mask indoors, with some exceptions (e.g. children under the age of two and people with certain health conditions, employees in designated areas or protected by a physical barrier). Proof is not required if someone has an exemption.

To learn more details please visit the City of Toronto’s webpage, COVID 19: Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw and watch this on demand webinar by clicking here.

Signage: How to Wear A Cloth Mask, City of Toronto

Please refer to the sign above to learn how to wear a mask properly. To download and print, please click here.

Re-opening Guidance From City of Toronto

The City of Toronto is preparing to oversee the safe restart of some services and partial reopening of many businesses. Resources have been developed to help support business through this time. For guidance on safely reopening, business operators can reference the Toronto Public Health Planning Guide, and visit the COVID-19: Reopening Guidelines for Businesses & Organizations to view sector specific resources.

Decisions about when and how businesses can begin operating will be made by the Government of Ontario in accordance with its framework to reopen the province after COVID-19.

Toronto / Ontario Lists of PPE Suppliers

The City of Toronto has a webpage where you can find a list of suppliers of PPE and other needed goods & services, or apply to a be supplier. Please click here to visit the page to learn more and to download the most up to date list.

The province of Ontario has set up a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory, where employers can find suppliers who sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to support a safe reopening of their workplaces.

Weekly Webinars for Toronto Businesses

These repeat weekly. You can attend more than once. Here are a few of the webinar titles:

1) Ask-An-Accountant – Applying for Government COVID-19 Funding Programs
2) Business AdviceTO Female Founders with SheEO
3) Business AdviceTO Retail with Retail Advantage
4) Business AdviceTO Tech with TechTO

Sign-up for future weekly Online Events & Webinars using the link below. (Scroll to the drop down labelled Online Events & Webinars once the page loads.)

Ontario: Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace (by sector)

Ontario is releasing safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.

These resources are available for different sectors. They will help employers and workers better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sector guidelines contain recommendations and tips for employers on how to keep workers safe on the job. Posters for both employers and workers also offer advice on preventative actions, including physical distancing and workplace sanitation. Employers are encouraged to download the posters to print and post in the workplace.

As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional COVID-19 workplace safety resources will be added.

Click here now to continue reading and to access resources.

Relief and Recovery Fund – (Funding to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are unable to access the government’s existing support measures)

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is now accepting applications under the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).

Regional Economy Funding Stream: This stream provides support to southern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been declined for, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures. Please visit the FedDev Ontario website for more information or to apply.

For full eligibility criteria and additional information, please visit FedDev Ontario’s RRRF page.

Social Distancing Signage for businesses

DOWNLOAD: Line Up Signage: Click here for signage for encouraging social distancing in lines.

Front Door Signage for businesses

DOWNLOAD: Front Door Signage: Click here for signage you can use on your front door.

Staff Screening Sheet

DOWNLOAD: Click here to download a screening checklist created by Toronto Health for your employees they can complete at the start of every shift.

Who can help me with government funding applications and general business advice?

The City of Toronto has launched the BusinessTO Support Centre to provide businesses with one-on-one support with applications for government support resources/funding programs & general business advice. Learn more by clicking here.

Where can I learn about the emergency benefit or the wage subsidy?

For Employers: Click here to read about The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), 75% wage
subsidy. Please note this program has been extended… For full details, including information regarding proposed legislative changes, (such as support for seasonal employees) please click here.

For Employees: Click here to read about The Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB), $2k benefit
for impacted employees.

What is the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)?

To ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to see them through the current challenges, the Government of Canada has launched the new Canada Emergency Business Account, which has been implemented by eligible financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC).

This $25 billion program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs… click here to continue reading.

NEW UPDATE: May 19, 2020, The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses. This extended measure will help small businesses protect the jobs that Canadians rely on. Click here to continue reading and to learn criteria.

Where can I find answers to my payroll questions?

Canadian Payroll Association FAQ: a listing of frequently asked
questions and answers from employers regarding employee payroll during
the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who can I call with questions? 

The province has launched a toll-free line called the Stop the Spread Business Information Line, 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. Read the full press release by clicking here.

What is the Canadian Government doing to help?

The Government of Canada has assembled a webpage of Resources for Canadian Businesses experiencing the effects of COVID-19.

The page includes, but is not limited to:
1. Support for employees
2. Support for businesses
3. Business travel and events
4. Business in international markets

Please visit

What is the City of Toronto doing to help?

The city of Toronto has assembled a page with the information small businesses may need. on one single  It also details information at the provincial and federal levels. Consider bookmarking this page:

SURVEY: COVID-19 Impact Survey By St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA / Old Town Toronto Members

Through the survey LINK below, please share how things have changed for you and your staff, due to COVID-19, and any advice you have for other businesses.


User Friendly List of Government Resources via Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

Ward 13 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s office has compiled a user friendly list of resources offered from all levels of government in one place.

To access:

  1. Visit
  2. Scroll down to Links and Resources
  3. Choose User Friendly List of Government Resources

 One-Stop Information Centre For Businesses

The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are partnering to deliver you a one-stop information centre where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenge you’re facing. Right now, you can watch and read how to access new government supports.


Canadian Federation of Independent Business

CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Business) has created an exceptional set of resources and FAQs including materials like a template lease deferral agreement to help with rent negotiations and other useful templates and guides.

Learn more:

10 Tips for closing your business securely

1)  Remove cash and place empty til in window/door.
2)  Lock visible goods in storage, (offsite if possible.)
3)  Post sign in door stating “NO CASH OR GOODS ON HAND/ YOU ARE ON CAMERA.”
4)  Ensure cameras, alarms and locks are all functioning properly.
5)  Leave lights on inside and out.
6)  Take a copy of insurance contacts, policies and inventory list.
7)  Post emergency key holder contact information inside, but not visible from windows.
8)  When checking on your business, do so during the day with a partner.
9)  Tell your business neighbours your plans and exchange contact information.
10) Report all suspicious activity by calling Toronto Police, non emergency at 416-808-2222.

Make sure your insurance is up to date

Right now, if something happens, the last thing you want deal with is a lapsed insurance policy. Make sure you have a copy of your insurance certificates and all the appropriate contacts (both at home and at work) and that your payments are up to date to avoid insurance interruption.

Am I a member?
Every business and commercial property owner within the boundaries of The St. Lawrence Market Business Improvement Area (BIA), also known at Old Town Toronto, are automatically members of our not-for-profit organization. To view a map of our boundaries, please click here now.

Old Town Toronto encourages you to follow all recommendations and orders of public health officials including, but not limited to, staying at home as much as possible. Together we will #FlattenTheCurve.