March 2021 Ontario Budget Briefing

The past year has challenged us, but Ontario’s Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries have been resilient despite being first and hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, government tabled the 2021/22 provincial budget to protect lives and livelihoods across the province, including nearly $1 billion in available supports for our industries, including:

Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant
The Ontario government is introducing a new Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant, which will provide an estimated $100 million in a one-time payout of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible tourism and hospitality small businesses.

This is meant to protect jobs in local communities to help small businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and once again offer world-class tourism and hospitality experiences.

Supporting Jobs – Helping Ontario’s Tourism Industry Rebuild and Recover
The Ontario government is investing $100 million into Ontario Tourism Recovery Program to help tourism operators, anchor businesses and attractions recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Another Year of Relief from Certain Rents and Fees for Resource-Based Tourism Businesses:
Eligible Commercial Outpost Camps and hunting and fishing outfitters would receive another year of relief from certain rents and fees, providing approximately $1.3 million in financial assistance. This relief will help with the recovery of the sector by supporting businesses that employ residents and contribute to local communities. 

Ontario’s Tourism Recovery Program:
Ontario is introducing the Ontario Tourism Recovery Program, a new $100 million initiative for 2021-22 to help tourism operators, anchor businesses and attractions recover from the impacts of COVID-19. This initiative will provide support for historically successful businesses that have helped to drive employment and visitation in their regions by assisting with costs related to restructuring, safe reopening, recalibrated marketing activities and partnership development. 

Additional Funding for NOHFC:
Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) is changing to better serve the Northern economy. In September 2020, the government launched the short-term Northern Ontario Recovery Program (NORP). In February 2021, the government announced an improved NOHFC program with a focus on culture, talent, business development and community infrastructure. Alongside these programs, an additional $50 million over the next two years will be allocated to the NOHFC to support investments in infrastructure, culture, economic development and training. These new programs will help increase economic development and promote job creation in all regions of the North. 

Ontario Travel Tax Credit:
In the 2020 Budget, the government announced that it would explore ways to provide Ontario residents with support of up to 20 per cent for eligible Ontario tourism expenses to encourage them to discover the province in 2021. The government has set aside $150 million and intends to introduce legislation for a tax credit to encourage residents to explore Ontario when public health experts advise that it is safe to travel. 

Doubling the Ontario Small Business Support Grant: Small businesses who have been determined as eligible recipients of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will automatically be entitled to a second payment in an amount equal to the first payment they received. They will not need to apply again to receive this additional funding. Other announcements made today include additional supports for Regional Tourism Organizations, more investments in highways, rail and broadband, creating opportunities for job training, and more. We will provide more details on these items in our weekly COVID-19 update.

See the full budget here.