Brief Update on Tele-Town Hall with Minister Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, on Thursday 19 March. Moderator: Tim Hudak
Minister MacLeod was optimistic and very supportive of her sectors. She noted that the province had experience with epidemics (SARS) but pointed out that COVID-19 posed a potentially devastating impact as the virus was virtually unknown. This was the reason for declaring a State of Emergency. She advised that there would be a fiscal update on March 25 and noted that Premier Ford had indicated that there is “no level of support we won’t consider”.
MacLeod confirmed that funding of all agencies (OAC, OTF, CAF, Ontario Creates etc) will remain stable and fully supported by the ministry in order to ensure that the sector will be ready to “once again make Ontario’s hometowns sparkle” as soon as the pandemic is over.
Questions asked included:
1. Tourism marketing funds and planning? Minister has advisory panels looking at most effective ways to get money flowing to festivals and events asap.
2. Can events that are postponed get money to re-boot? Possibility – wants to enhance festivals through Cultural Attractions Fund.
3. Public Libraries – get the word out that libraries are still operating re digital experiences. Getting concerts on line.
4. Independent and contract workers across the sector. What are mechanisms and timing re liquidity? Ministry looking at ways to enhance efforts by federal government to help workers. New support program from federal government will be an on-line application which should be up and running in 2-3 weeks. New program also helps small businesses as will tax remittance delays, HST etc.
Questions also arose re possible extension of grant deadlines in addition to possibilities re receiving operating grants earlier. Would need to discuss with the various agencies.
Minister also conducted a survey re offering regular (weekly) tele town halls. This appealed to majority of the close to 1000 participants.