Ottawa businesses affected by the weeks-long protests against vaccine mandates will be eligible for grants of up to $5,000 to help recoup their losses, the province said Friday.
Ottawa’s main tourism marketing agency will also get a boost under the $11.5-million funding package announced by Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod, who also serves as provincial minister of sport and tourism.
The funding includes $10 million in grants aimed at helping retailers, restaurants and other small businesses that took a financial hit during the “Freedom Convoy” protests pay for non-deferrable operating expenses incurred during the blockade.
Invest Ottawa will administer the grants. MacLeod’s office said Friday that more information on the application process and eligibility criteria will be available soon on the economic development agency’s website.
The province’s aid package follows the federal government’s announcement last week that it would provide $20 million in grants to merchants who lost sales during the protests.
Under that program, which is also being run by Invest Ottawa, small businesses in the core will be able to apply for up to $10,000 to cover non-deferrable operational costs not covered by other federal programs.
An Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas survey of more than 200 merchants a few days into the demonstrations found that three-quarters of them had lost revenues, with just over half of those businesses saying they would not be able to recover their losses.
The provincial funding unveiled Friday also includes $1.5 million aimed at helping the city’s hard-hit tourism industry recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic.
MacLeod’s office said the cash will fund a new campaign from Ottawa Tourism “that inspires consumer confidence and encourages tourists” to visit the capital this spring and summer.
“We are sending a strong signal that the nation’s capital is open for business and ready to welcome the world to Ontario,” MacLeod said in a statement.
Ottawa Tourism said last year the pandemic was expected to cost the city as much as $2.6 billion in lost visitor spending by the end of 2021. The agency has said it will be relying on tourists from nearby centres – especially Toronto and Montreal – to help kickstart the industry’s recovery.