The Indigenous tourism industry in Ontario stood strong in 2021 despite the ongoing hardships our communities faced. Each of you have experienced your own challenges and demonstrated resilience on your unique paths. As we begin the year by re-entering Step 2 of the Roadmap to Reopen, we understand the urgent need for support will continue. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us; we are here to listen, support you, help navigate resources, and stand united through tough times. Our door is open, always.

On behalf of the ITO team, we wish you the very best in the new year. We look forward to supporting the preservation, renewal and rejuvenation of your business now and in the future.


Ontario Launches New Supports for Businesses

The Ontario government is introducing new supports for businesses that are impacted by the recent public health measures in response to the Omicron variant. These supports include a new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program and a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes.

Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program
Through this program, eligible businesses will receive rebate payments equivalent to 50 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to the current capacity limits. A full list of eligible business types and online applications for this program will be made available through a program guide in mid-January 2022. Payments to eligible businesses provided retroactive to December 19, 2021. Businesses will be required to submit property tax and energy bills as part of the application process.

Six-Month Interest- and Penalty-Free Period
The province is also providing businesses with a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. The six-month period will begin January 1, 2022 and end July 1, 2022. Businesses will have the option to delay their payments for the following provincially administered taxes:

  • Employer Health Tax
  • Beer, Wine & Spirits Taxes
  • Tobacco Tax
  • Insurance Premium Tax
  • Fuel Tax
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Gas Tax
  • Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts & Benefit Plans
  • Mining Tax
  • Race Tracks Tax

Additional details on this will be made available this month. Read more here.

Tomorrow is the Last Day to Apply for Miinikaanan Badakidoon
In December 2021, the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) announced a new chapter for the Starter Company Plus program. The Thunder Bay and District Entrepreneur Centre opened an innovative and new Indigenous funding stream that has been adapted to support Indigenous entrepreneurs with a $5,000 grant, business training and mentoring. The new program called Miinikaanan Badakidoon, means “to plant seeds” in Anishnaawbe from the Lake Nipigon dialect. The Miinikaanan Badakidoon funding will support Indigenous lead business and entrepreneurs across the Northwest Ontario region. Deadline to apply is January 7, 2022.

For eligible Indigenous clients that may experience barriers to participation, additional supports may be available with Anishinabek Employment and Training Services (AETS) such as:  a loaner laptop, Internet Hub, Training Allowance, Day Care, etc. To discuss eligibility for these supports please contact the AETS Office.
Spreadsheet Error May Have Affected Your Eligibility for the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP)

The federal government is advising the recent applicants for the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) may have been affected by an error in the calculation spreadsheet for wage and hiring support, which erroneously showed they were ineligible for the THRP when they may have been eligible.

You may have been affected if:

  • You were applying for period 22 (October 24 to November 20, 2021)  
  • You used a version of the spreadsheet for wage and hiring that was available between Tuesday December 21, 2021 and Friday December 24, 2021 
  • You indicated you are a qualifying tourism and hospitality entity and had both a current-month revenue drop and 12-month average revenue drop over 40%  
  • Step 5 in the spreadsheet showed a zero-dollar amount and gave the message that you were not eligible for the THRP  

What to do if you think you have been affected by this error:

  1. If you did not apply for period 22: Download the latest version of the spreadsheet (available here) and do your calculation again for period 22 to check if you are eligible to apply for the THRP – Wage  
  2. If you already applied for the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program – Wage or Canada Recovery Hiring Program for period 22: Contact the Business Enquiries line at 1-800-959-5525 to make your THRP – Wage application  

The THRP is available to businesses and organizations in the tourism and hospitality industry with a 12-month average revenue drop (March 2020 to February 2021) of at least 40% and a claim-period revenue drop of at least 40%.  

REMINDER: From December 19, 2021 to February 12, 2022, businesses with a current-month revenue loss of 25% and who are affected by a capacity-limiting public health restriction of 50% or more are eligible to apply for THRP wage and rent subsidies. Check if you qualify here.  

Tourism & Hospitality Emergency Recovery Initiative
Get ready to test your limits. Discover exciting career opportunities in Tourism & Hospitality. Get started with FREE training and resources at LetsGetReady.ca


A Three Fires
Employer-to-Employee Matching Event
Are you looking for a job in the Ontario Tourism Industry?
Are you Indigenous?
Are you an Ontario tourism business looking to grow your team?
If you answered yes to one of these questions, we want you to Save the Date

The second edition of A Three Fires Collaborative Quest Employee-to-Employer Matching Event is taking place next Monday, January 10th, 2022. If you haven’t already applied for the program, there is still time!

Hosted virtually, our online platform will allow you to schedule virtual interviews with potential employees, and vice-versa, for eligible positions in 2022. Apply now for
A Three Fires Collaborative Quest – a program designed to build capacity for the tourism workforce in Ontario. For full program details and how to apply, please click here. Questions? Email us at IBA@IndignousTourismOntario.ca.
Opportunity to Contribute to Mnidoo Mnising/Manitoulin Island Culinary Tourism Strategy
The Municipality of Central Manitoulin, in partnership with Destination Northern Ontario and Indigenous Tourism Ontario, has engaged the Culinary Tourism Alliance in developing a culinary tourism strategy for Mnidoo Mnising/Manitoulin Island. 

As part of the strategy development process, we are gathering insight on Mnidoo Mnising/Manitoulin Island’s current culinary tourism context. We will be hosting a culinary tourism workshop in late January/early February. Additionally, up to six (6) businesses will be selected to receive dedicated support from the Culinary Tourism Alliance to develop a new food & beverage experience over the course of the program, which will run from January to May 2022.

This initiative is being organized by the Mnidoo Mnising/Manitoulin Island Culinary Tourism Steering Committee with equal representation from Indigenous and non-Indigenous members. If you are a Manitoulin Island culinary business and you have not yet been contacted and wish to be considered for the program, we ask that you complete the short anonymous survey linked below by end-of-day January 16th 2022; it should take you 8-10 minutes to complete. You will have the opportunity to share your contact information if you are interested in attending a culinary tourism workshop in late January/early February (Details TBD).
Toronto Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show

Date: February 25, 2022 – February 27, 2022
Location: The International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd, Mississauga, ON L4V 1E8

In February 2022, ITO will be participating in the Toronto Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show for the first time. ITO is inviting our members to join us to showcase Indigenous-owned outdoor adventure experiences across Ontario! Available spots are limited. If you are a market-ready or export-ready Indigenous operator interested in participating in this upcoming trade show, please click the ‘I would like to participate’ button to email ITO’s Marketing Specialist, Brian Still.

Want to learn more? Visit The Outdoor Adventure Show website and stay tuned as we will be hosting a virtual information session this month to discuss details about participating with ITO.


Ontario Temporarily Moves to Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen
As of yesterday, Wednesday January 5 at 12:01am, the government has temporarily moved Ontario into a Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen in response to a steep increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. The following measures will be implemented for at least 21 days, subject to trends in public health and health system indicators:  
  • Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors. 
  • Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors. 
  • Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site. 
  • Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits. 
  • Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close. 
  • Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed. 
  • Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions. 
  • Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity. 
  • Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted. 
  • Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted. 
  • Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions. 
  • Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity. 
  • Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity. Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity. 
  • Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements. 
Read the full government release here.
Vaccine Certificate QR Code Now Required to Access Certain Businesses and Organizations  
As of January 4, 2022, Ontarians will now be required to use their enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code to access certain businesses and organizations where proof of vaccination is already required. Vaccine receipts without a QR code will no longer be accepted as valid proof of vaccination.  

Businesses will be required to use the Verify Ontario app to scan the codes and confirm a person’s vaccination status.  

You do not need to download an app or have a smartphone to use your QR code. You can download the QR code certificate from the provincial portal
here or call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to have your enhanced vaccine certificate emailed or mailed to you. 

You can save the electronic version of your enhanced vaccine certificate with a QR code to your phone or print a paper copy. Businesses must accept both electronic and paper versions. 

You will need to continue to show a piece of identification with your name and date of birth along with your proof of vaccination when visiting select businesses and organizations. 

For anyone without access to a computer, you can: 
  • Visit your local library to use a public computer and internet resources; 
  • Ask a trusted friend or organization to help print a copy; or 
  • Access a Service Ontario location 
Those with medical exemptions also need verified certificates with a QR code as doctor’s notes will no longer be accepted as of January 10, 2022. 

For more information, please visit
Lessons from a West Coast Restaurant Makeover
The Sharing Circle’s second blog post is live! Written by ITO’s Indigenous Business Advisor Scott Mercs, this story recounts his tales from when he was hired as a General Manager for a hotel in dire straits.

The Sharing Circle is a space for long form blog posts about Indigenous tourism business development. Through the power of storytelling and sharing lessons learned, our authors will recount tourism-related tales from their perspectives to educate, celebrate, and ignite conversation amongst the ITO community. 

 Check out The Sharing Circle blog

      Indigenous Tourism Ontario
      1300 Hwy 540
      4 directions Complex Unit 4
      Aundeck Omni Kaning, Ontario

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