Earlier March Posts below:

Please check this space regularly as we post updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and what supports may be available to you as we navigate this crisis together.

We’ll keep updating this page to:

  1. Keep You Informed (Communicate)
  2. Provide ideas on how we can help our businesses (Support)
  3. Recommend measures for our governments to help (Advocate)

COVID-19 UPDATES – March 31, 2020

CANADA: Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau bumps news conference outlining details on new wage subsidy and loans to Wed, April 1. Your Chamber will share details as soon as possible.

MUSKOKA: COVID-19 Assessment Centres to open April 1 in Bracebridge (at Rotary Centre) and in Huntsville, but these are not walk in centres. You need to have a referral. Download Release Here: Mar 31-20-COVID-19 Assess Ctrs Muskoka Media Release (FINAL)

COVID-19 UPDATES – March 27, 2020

Federal government promises support for small businesses, including increasing wage subsidy to 75% and loans. Learn more here

COVID-19 UPDATES – March 26, 2020

Township announces property tax penalty relief coming. Download PDF: Media Release – Property Tax Penalty Relief for Muskoka Lakes Residents and Businesses

Licensed restaurants can now offer takeout beer and liquor. Read The Star article

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to provide $2K a month for anyone who is out of work due to COVID-19, over the age of 15 and earned $5K or more in 2019.

COVID-19 RESOURCES – March 25, 2020

To Be or Not To Be Essential: Letter from Vision Contracting to the Muskoka Lakes Chamber. To read it, click on the link below.

DISTRICT MEETING TODAY: There is a Special District Council electronic meeting regarding COVID-19 measures today at 1pm. Your Chamber and partners are hoping to hear business relief measures discussed. To watch that meeting at 1 pm, click here for the link.

CHAMBERS CALL ON DISTRICT FOR BUSINESS RELIEF ACTION: March 23 Letter to District from the Musoka Lakes and Bracebridge Chambers requesting business relief messages. To read it, download the PDF: COVID-19 District Relief Letter – March 23.


NEW ONTARIO GOVERNMENT WEBSITE, ONTARIO TOGETHER – mostly seeking help from Ontario businesses but the province promises info to help our businesses as well. Click here to visit new site.

CANADA: Houses of Commons passes legislation for COVID-19 help

COVID-19 RESOURCES – March 24, 2020 Update

ROE Tip to Employers: If you are considering laying off staff, you need to have Record of Employment (ROE) forms to provide them so they can apply for Employment Insurance (EI). You can not download these forms from the CRA or Service Canada so be sure to order them if you do not have them in supply. Your Chamber has raised concerns to the CRA about ROEs not being readily available for smaller employers who may not have set up on line ROE access – which is normally a lengthy process.

Ontario: All non-essential businesses must be closed as of 11.59pm tonight, March 24. See the list of Essential Services.

District Waste Management Change: all garbage and recycling must now be bagged.

Effective immediately:
  • all garbage, recycling, and green bin organic material must be bagged, sealed and placed securely inside bins – do not put loose materials out for collection
  • exercise physical distancing with collection operators
 The following remains the same:
  • all curbside bi-weekly garbage limits remain in effect
  • green bin material (in urban areas only) must be put in compostable bags
  • continue to sort recycling

Canada: As of 7pm March 24, the aid package proposed by the Liberal government has stalled as negotiations continue among the parties. The proposed aid package is to include:

  • A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, delivering about $2 billion in extra support.
  • A new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 biweekly, for up to 15 weeks, to provide income support to workers, including the self-employed, who have to stay home and don’t qualify for paid sick leave or employment insurance. The measure could disburse up to $10 billion.
  • A new Emergency Support Benefit to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
  • A six-month, interest-free reprieve on student loan payments.
  • A doubling of the homeless care program.
  • An extension of the tax filing deadline to June 1. A policy change allowing taxpayers to defer until after Aug. 31 tax payments that are due after today and before September.
  • $305 million for a new Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities.

COVID-19 RESOURCES – March 22-23, 2020 Update

ARE YOU AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE? Tonight the Ontario Government released its list of Essential Services which you can view by clicking here. If you are unsure if your business is essential, call us at the Chamber and we will look into it for you.

CLOSURES: Ontario Premier Doug Ford is ordering all non-essential stores and services to close starting Tuesday,  March 24 at 11:59 p.m. in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

WAGE SUBSIDY: The Canada Revenue Agency now has a page explaining how the Temporary Wage Subsidy works for employers. Learn more about it by clicking here >

TOP 5 THINGS SMALL & MEDIUM SIZED BUSINESSES (SMEs) SHOW KNOW NOW: Watch this video of Perrin Beatty, President CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

About the need for self isolation: Many of our Chamber members are reporting people are coming into essential service stores or requesting property maintenance services after having just travelled across the border or from abroad. Everyone who has travelled needs to self isolate for 14 days. And health officials are suggesting we should all consider ourselves sick, whether we’ve recently travelled or not, and stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out.

COVID-19 RESOURCES – March 20, 2020 Update

In the past few days, your Chamber has:

  • Sent a letter to the Township of Muskoka Lakes asking it to extend the deadline for property tax payments and waive any interest charges for late payments to free up that money for businesses concerned about cash flow
  • Been working with other Parry Sound and Muskoka Chambers to consider a District-wide response
  • Created a “Shop Local, Muskoka Lakes is Resilient” Facebook Group, where you can post information on how people can buy your goods and services while practicing social distancing
  • Met virtually with various agencies and authorities, including on a call with MPP Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, to gain insights into what various levels of government are doing to help business
  • Shared a simple form to gather impact data for FedNor – keep filling those in and email them to us.
  • Been working on messaging to our cottager friends to help them understand that while they’re in Muskoka and we have no confirmed COVID-19 cases here yet, they still need to commit to social distancing.
  • Held a Board of Directors meeting to determine actions to support Chamber members, such as the ones mentioned above.


First, your personal health is most important. We recommend you follow the Simcoe-Muskoka Health Unit for most accurate information. They are updating numbers of probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 twice daily.

  • Read Local updates from Simcoe-Muskoka Health Unit by clicking here.
  • For Canada-wide information and advice on staying healthy, visit Health Canada by clicking here.
  • If you feel you are showing symptoms, please take this self-assessment to determine if you might need to seek further care. Your next step is to call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. Note: The provincial government is adding extra Telehealth lines to deal with the volume of calls.

Please practice social distancing. What does that mean?

It means staying away from each other. Your Chamber recommends connecting virtually using the many social apps that are available to you, most at no charge. If you need to run a video call and share documents on screen, for example, and you do not have an app to do that, contact the Chamber and we’ll help facilitate sessions for you.

Do you need help setting up a virtual meeting? Call Norah at 705 706-2122 or email and we’ll help get you up and running.

See the Infographic at the bottom of this page to better understand social distancing.


Your Chamber, along with other Parry Sound-Muskoka Chambers and the Ontario and Canadian Chambers, are advocating for immediate relief for your businesses. That advocacy work is already guiding announcements by the Canadian and Ontario governments. Today (Friday, March 20), we are meeting again with Muskoka-wide Chambers and Explorers Edge RTO 12.


Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: to read this plan, please click here.

The federal plan promises to provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals to help stabilize the economy.

You will notice that some of the financial aid measures in this plan need royal assent, which might not come until April.

What is happening right away as part of the federal plan:

  • the deadline to file your income taxes has been moved to June 1
  • a wage subsidy is being offered for the next 90 days for small businesses that keep employees on the payroll.

How that works? You will be allowed to file for 10% of employee wages (that you keep on the payroll) up to $1,375 per employee with a maximum of $25,000 per company. It is our understanding that on a company’s next payroll remittance, the employer can deduct 10% of the income tax with holdings. This would not apply to the CPP and EI withholdings. Please confirm this with your own accountant or whomever does your payroll. While this step is appreciated,  it may not be so helpful for small organizations and we plan to ask our partners to help us lobby for larger subsidies.

  • mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits is being waived


Any employee requiring sick days or isolation can apply for EI Illness. The wait week is waived under this program and medical documentation is not required. Regular benefits can also be obtained for employees that have been laid off. Records of Employment ARE required but not to apply. Employment Insurance (EI): 1-833-381-2725 or apply online.


A Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) has been set up through Business Development Canada (BDC):

  • Small Business Loan: Up to $100,000 can be obtained online
  • Working capital loan: For loans over $100,000 and can support everyday operations
  • Purchase Order Financing: Loans to fulfill domestic or international orders

For more information, call 1-877-232-2269 or click here

Ontario Government Enacts State of Emergency (most monies being earmarked to support healthcare). Read the government release by clicking here.


Download the document above or ask us for it in Word or PDF. You can then fill it out and email it back to We will forward it to FedNor for you as they are asking us to collect this data. It looks like this:

Continue to watch this page for updates which will be added to the top of the page or under the applicable resource sections.

Disclaimer: This resource page is being provided for information purposes only. It does not represent or embody any official position of, or statement by, the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce, its members, staff, executive or board of directors, except where specifically indicated, nor does it attempt to set forth any legal, business or medical opinions or advice.  The content may not reflect the most up-to-date, accurate or complete information. No warranty or representation is being made by providing you the information and the Chamber can accept no responsibility for any errors or omissions, and expressly disclaims any such responsibility.