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Ontario reducing electricity rate; new supports for businesses

The Ontario government is providing support for some businesses and people impacted by current public health measures aimed at blunting the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, also Ontario’s Minister of Energy, announced today part of the plan includes electricity-rate relief to support small businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home while the province is in Modified Step Two, as well as grants for small businesses subject to closure.

For 21 days, starting Jan. 18, electricity prices are to be set at the current off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt hour – less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate – at all times. The off-peak rate will apply automatically to households, small businesses, and farms who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board. The change will benefit customers on both time-of-use and tiered rate plans.

“We know that spending more time at home means using more electricity during the day when prices are higher, that’s why we are moving to off-peak electricity rates 24-hours per day, seven days a week,” said Smith. “The off-peak rate will provide significant savings for families, small businesses and farms as all Ontarians work together to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.”

The government is also announcing an Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant for small businesses subject to closure under the modified Step Two of Roadmap to Reopen. It will provide eligible small businesses with a one-time grant payment of $10,000.

Eligible small businesses include restaurants and bars, facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms); performing arts and cinemas; museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions; meeting or event spaces; tour and guide services; conference centres and convention centres; driving instruction for individuals; and before- and after- school programs.

Businesses subject to 50 per cent capacity restrictions are not eligible for the new Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant.

Eligible businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and that are subject to closure under modified Step Two of Roadmap to Reopen will be pre-screened to verify eligibility and will not need to apply to the new program. Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply once the application portal opens in the coming weeks. Small businesses that qualify can expect to receive their payment in February.

Further, online applications for the previously announced Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will open on Jan. 18. This program will provide eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for up to 100 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

Eligible businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. Those required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs. A complete list of eligible businesses will be provided prior to the launch of the application portal.

Ontario is also improving cash flow for the province’s businesses by providing up to $7.5 billion through a six-month interest- and penalty-free period starting Jan. 1, 2022 for businesses making payments for most provincially administered taxes. This supports businesses now and provides flexibility for long-term planning.

“These programs will ensure impacted Bay of Quinte businesses have the support they need to get through this period and continue to provide the services our communities depend upon as we are able to emerge from these public health measures,” said Smith.



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