MPP Smith touts tourism supports in 2021 budget

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith speaks at Karlo Estates on Monday afternoon. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)




Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith was joined by County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson at Karlo Estates Winery in Wellington Monday to provide details on supports for the tourism sector.

Smith was on hand to meet with winery owner Sherry Karlo and discuss the importance of government supports during the pandemic as well as view a new UV Filtration at Karlo Estates that was supported in part by the Ontario government through a grant program.

Smith explained his government is helping the province’s tourism industry as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19. The 2021 budget- Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health & Our Economy, includes $100 million for a new Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant and $100 million for a new one-time relief program and total support from the Ontario government for the tourism, culture, sports, recreation and heritage industries specifically since the start of COVID-19 now totals $625 million.

“The past year has been extremely difficult on Ontario businesses, especially those in the tourism and hospitality sector,” said MPP Smith. “We are making significant progress when it comes to COVID-19, but we still have a ways to go. These programs will support our hospitality sector in the interim to keep their customers and staff safe, until we are able to welcome everyone back to our region.”

Mayor Ferguson said he was pleased to see this level of detail included in the 2021 budget for a sector that is crucial to the Prince Edward County economy.

“Things are not going to go back to normal with the snap of a finger,” Mayor Ferguson said. “A full recovery is going to take a little bit of time, I’m pleased that the government of Ontario recognized that fact in the 2021 Budget with dedicated support for small businesses as well as the key sectors of our local economy. MPP Smith has and will continue to be a strong voice at Queen’s Park for Prince Edward County and for our small business owners. On behalf of the residents and businesses I am most appreciative of Minister Smiths efforts on our behalf, but were not out of the woods yet as we’ve seen in recent days with the rise of cases locally.We look forward to welcoming visitors back when the health experts advise us it is safe to travel, but in the meantime I encourage everyone to support local as much as possible and together we will get through this challenging time.”

Prior to the pandemic, tourism generated more than $36 billion in economic activity and supported approximately 400,000 jobs in Ontario. As a direct result of the pandemic, the tourism sector has lost more than $18 billion in revenue alone and more than 200,000 jobs.

“This has been the most challenging year the tourism industry has ever faced. Previously an economic powerhouse for the province, tourism has been hit by the triple threat that COVID-19 represents – a health, economic and social crisis,” said Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Lisa MacLeod in a statement. “This critical relief funding will sustain regionally significant businesses, while protecting jobs in communities that rely on tourism investment. It will also support business transformation, ensuring Ontario tourism operators continue to be a key pillar of the province’s economy, while remaining globally competitive.”

The Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant will provide an estimated $100 million in one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses including hotels, motels, travel agencies, amusement parks, hunting and fishing camps, and recreational and vacation camps including children’s overnight summer camps.

“Some things are going to be quicker than others,” MPP Smith stated. “There are a number of different program available, some of them are going to be really quick because if you were successful in getting a grant in the Ontario Small Business Support Grant program, your automatically going to get that second instalment so you don’t even have to apply to it that’s just going to come, so that could be anywhere from $10,000-$20,000 if you were successful. Some of the other programs are going to take a little bit longer to develop, particularly when it comes to the wineries and cideries and the breakdown of how that $10 million is going to flow, there are going to be caps in there so it doesn’t get all gobbled up by big wineries or big cideries and I think there is going to be a disproportionate amount that ends up going to some of the smaller craft cideries that have been hit the hardest.”

The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program will protect critical jobs in communities, like PEC, across the province and sustain for-profit tourism businesses, which have had to fully or partially shut down during the pandemic. It will support tourism businesses as they adjust operations to reopen safely and focus on the domestic market during the ongoing crisis. Over the long term, the program will support businesses as they innovate, adapt and create new tourism offerings and experiences to attract visitors when it is safe to do so.

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