Quinte businesses benefit from Ontario’s Digital Main Street Program support



Quinte businesses benefit from Ontario’s Digital Main Street Program support

BAY OF QUINTE – In Belleville and Quinte West, 33 businesses have benefitted through Ontario’s Digital Main Street Program and Student Digital Service Squads, a $57-million partnership between the provincial and federal governments designed to expand e-commerce amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local small businesses requiring assistance to launch and expand their online stores could access $2,500 in government grants, tech-savvy students, and online training to improve their digital presence. Throughout 2020, Belleville businesses benefitted from $85,000 in support. Some 26 businesses received Digital Transformation Grants, while others accessed counselling and student support. Quinte West businesses received $43,750 in support with seven businesses receiving Digital Transformation Grants. Information about program participation in Prince Edward County has yet to be released.

“Our region’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our community. By choosing to shop local, we all benefit,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte. “The Digital Service Squads are helping our businesses transition online, allowing them to access new customers safely and reliable. This will have a positive impact on these businesses during this pandemic and for years to come.”

Students working in this program assess a business’s digital literacy and provide:

  • Information on how to access the Digital Main Street digital transformation training program;
  • Help in creating a digital transformation plan and applying for and spending the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant;
  • Support to create or update a website and adopt best practices;
  • Advice on social media promotion and advertising;
  • Technological support and recommendations on tools for specific business needs;
  • Advice on additional digital transformation support including loyalty programs, point-of-sale systems, e-commerce and back-end business operations support.

Digital Service Squads across the province are already on track to help thousands of small businesses across Ontario develop their online offerings. This is meeting a critical need for many Ontario businesses as they transition to online storefronts.

“Confronting the economic impacts from COVID-19 is a team effort and, through the Ontario Digital Main Street Program and Digital Service Squads, we’re enlisting students to help our local small businesses get up and running online,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “I encourage all Ontarians to use their purchasing power to support local by buying their goods virtually from local small businesses today and into the future.”

The program is administered by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association, which works with participating municipalities, Chambers of Commerce and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs). The Digital Service Squads are an important part of the Digital Main Street platform that is expected to help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.

“Digital Services Squads are the true heart of the Digital Main Street initiative,” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director of the Ontario BIA Association. “By working directly with main street small businesses, the passionate students that do work on squads bring local business owners the knowledge, tools, and hands-on support they need to transform to brick-and-click operations. In this way, our downtown cores can continue to be strong and vibrant while also giving local businesses the online presence to thrive through the pandemic and beyond.”

Currently, only about 60 per cent of Ontario’s small enterprises have a website and only seven per cent accept online payment. Through Digital Main Street, Ontario’s businesses are adopting new tools that will allow them to reach a wider customer base and help them weather the economic impacts of COVID-19.


  • The Ontario 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover outlined more than $13.5 billion in support for people and jobs.
  • The Main Street Relief Grant provides up to $1,000 to help eligible small businesses for the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Main Street Relief Grant is available to small businesses with two to nine employees in retail, accommodations and food services, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services to help cover personal protective equipment costs.
  • Ontario’s Small Business Support Grant provides a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $20,000 to eligible small businesses who have had to restrict their operations due to the province-wide shutdown.
  • Eligible businesses can apply for more than $600 million in support through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, Ontario Main Street Relief Grant: PPE Support and temporary property tax and energy cost rebates through a single online application portal at Ontario.ca/covidsupport.
  • In October, the government launched Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan and introduced the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020, legislation that will support small businesses and modernize rules to allow them to innovate and meet the challenges of today. The act will remove hurdles faced by small businesses and allow them to pursue new opportunities — while maintaining or enhancing protections for public health, safety and the environment.
  • The Digital Main Street platform is a $57 million program jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments. It is part of Ontario’s support for small businesses through Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan.
  • Ontario is also investing an additional $150 million in rural broadband which will help open the digital road for many Ontario small businesses.


  • Find small business grants and recovery resources at Ontario.ca/smallbusiness.
  • Learn how you can stop the spread of COVID-19 at Ontario.ca/

Bay of Quinte municipalities to receive more than $8.5 million in provincial infrastructure funding



BAY OF QUINTE – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced that this year Bay of Quinte municipalities will receive more than $8.5 million through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) to address their local community infrastructure needs including roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure.

“This funding addresses our government’s commitment to support our local municipalities in making the Bay of Quinte area the best place to live and grow. We know that projects to create and renew local infrastructure will create jobs and serve to attract economic growth and investment,” said Smith.

Recognizing that municipalities have different infrastructure needs, the province uses a straightforward and transparent formula that examines various social and economic factors to determine funding allocations across the province.

Total investment in communities across Bay of Quinte are as follows:

  • City of Belleville* ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… $3,232,839
  • County of Hastings*………………………………………………………………………………………………………… $50,000
  • County of Prince Edward……………………………………………………………………………………………. $1,147,499
  • City of Quinte West….………………………………………………………………………………………………….$4,157,747

Total investment in local municipalities……………………………………………………………………………………$8,588,085

*- Municipalities shared with Hastings Lennox and Addington riding.

The funding above is a part of Ontario’s approximately $200 million commitment to 424 communities to help them address their core infrastructure projects and asset management planning needs in 2021.

“By investing in infrastructure projects across the province, we are strengthening and building communities,” said Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure. “This is part of our ongoing commitment to support small, rural and northern municipalities across Ontario, providing stable funding needed to build long-term economic resilience.”


  • The Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund provides stable and predictable funding for communities with populations under 100,000, along with all rural and northern communities.
  • Approximately $200 million in funding was allocated to small, rural and northern communities for 2021. Municipalities may accumulate their OCIF funding for up to five years to address larger infrastructure projects.
  • Ontario also provides funding to communities through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), a $30-billion, 10-year infrastructure program cost-shared between federal, provincial and municipal governments. Ontario’s share per project will be up to 33.33 per cent, or $10.2 billion spread across four streams: Rural and Northern, Public Transit, Green, and Community, Culture and Recreation.



Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund recipients - Datasets - Ontario Data Catalogue





Ontario government providing $847,600 to Bay of Quinte long-term care homes for prevention



BAY OF QUINTE – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced the Ontario government is investing $847,600 to increase prevention and containment efforts in nine local long-term care homes during the second wave of COVID-19.

“This new investment will further enhance the ability for these homes to protect vulnerable residents and the hard-working staff caring for them as we continue to weather this global pandemic,” Smith said. “We need to continue to be diligent in preventing the spread of COVID-19 while we continue to distribute vaccines to homes across the province.”

Homes in Bay of Quinte that will receive this additional funding include:

  • Belmont Long Term Care Facility is receiving an additional $86,000, bringing its total prevention and containment support since the start of the pandemic to $750,200.
  • Crown Ridge Place is receiving an additional $48,000, bringing its total prevention and containment support since the start of the pandemic to $378,100.
  • J. McFarland Memorial Home is receiving an additional $70,100, bringing its total prevention and containment support since the start of the pandemic to $451,700.
  • Hallowell House is receiving an additional $80,500, bringing its total prevention and containment support since the start of the pandemic to $709,300.
  • Hastings Manor is receiving an additional $218,000, bringing its total prevention and containment support since the start of the pandemic to $1,307,200.
  • Kentwood Park Nursing Home is receiving an additional $66,900, bringing its total prevention and containment support since the start of the pandemic to $393,900.
  • Trent Valley Lodge is receiving an additional $182,500, bringing its total prevention and containment support since the start of the pandemic to $484,300.
  • West Lake Terrace is receiving an additional $50,700, bringing its total prevention and containment support since the start of the pandemic to $380,500.
  • Westgate Lodge Nursing Home is receiving an additional $44,600, bringing its total prevention and containment support since the start of the pandemic to $431,000.


The new funding will reduce the risk of the virus from entering long-term homes by covering eligible expenses related to the following:

  • An immediate 24/7 health checkpoint to confirm staff and essential caregivers entering the building are properly screened for COVID-19 symptoms and potential exposure and to continue screening residents on an ongoing basis to support early detection and containment of any new infections;
  • Additional prevention and containment activities, such as hiring new staff to carry out the added workload for essential services and/or to replace workers who are sick or in isolation;
  • Cleaning, equipment, and operating supplies beyond typical levels for the home;
  • Implementing infection control measures based on clinical evidence, advice from a physician or other regulated health practitioner with expertise in infection control.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Ontario government has invested $1.38 billion to ensure that our long-term care homes have the resources they need to battle COVID-19.

“We will continue to do everything we can to help stop the spread of this virus and protect our most vulnerable and the staff who have been working tirelessly to keep themselves safe,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “From the start of the pandemic, we have taken quick, decisive action to make sure that homes have access to the resources they need to care for our loved ones.”

Once an outbreak is declared in a home, the Province continues to work alongside local public health units, hospital partners, and all health-sector resources to help stabilize the situation and return the home to normal operations.

To address long-standing staffing challenges, the government has launched one of the largest recruitment and training drives in the province’s history to deliver on its commitment to provide an average of four hours of daily care for residents. The will make Ontario the Canadian leader in the provision of care. To implement its staffing plan (https://www.ontario.ca/page/better-place-live-better-place-work-ontarios-long-term-care-staffing-plan), the government is increasing annual investments, culminating in $1.9 billion annually by 2024-2025 to create more than 27,000 new positions for personal support workers, registered nurses, and registered practical nurses in long-term care.




  • During the second wave, the province has enhanced testing requirements for long-term care homes, and deployed rapid tests through a proof-of-concept program, recognizing the importance of identifying a case of the virus before it can spread from the community into a long-term care home.
  • The province’s vaccine strategy prioritizes the most vulnerable populations first, including health care workers and residents of long-term care homes, who are at higher risk of contracting the virus. The government has committed that the residents and staff in all long-term care homes in Ontario will be vaccinated by February 15, 2021 if they want to be vaccinated.
  • To address urgent staffing challenges in long-term care homes, hospitals have deployed rapid response teams of health care professionals. Additionally, the Ontario Workforce Reserve for Senior Support program is recruiting Resident Support Aides. The province has also put in place a Personal Support Worker Return of Service program and is fast tracking Personal Support Worker education and providing supports for new nursing graduates. Community paramedics have also assisted in homes, providing care and help with testing.



  • 2020 Ontario Budget/Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support Recover – budget.ontario.ca