The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber Network are partnering with the Government of Canada to support small businesses through a new initiative, Shop Local, an investment of $33 million across Canada to encourage Canadians to shop local.

Making the announcement from Butter Baker Bakery in Markham, Minister Ng also announced, as part of this investment, that nearly $9 million will be invested in Ontario, through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, to support businesses as they reopen so they can stay open and thrive in recovery. The funding will be provided through provincial and territorial chambers of commerce to support businesses to promote consumer confidence and local businesses.

“Small businesses are cornerstones of our local economies and key to thriving communities—creating jobs, driving innovation, and generating wealth for Canadians. Local businesses have always been there for us and need our support now more than ever,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce.  “Together, with the help of the Government of Canada, chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the country, we can make a difference for local businesses and help move Canada’s recovery forward.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and the heart of our communities and will be critical to our recovery from the COVID-19 recession,” said the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. “As our economy begins to safely reopen, Shop Local investments will encourage Canadians to support their local small businesses, helping them recover quicker. As we work to get through this pandemic, we all have a role to play, and the government continues to support all small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country.”

The funding will be provided through provincial and territorial chambers of commerce to support businesses to promote consumer confidence and local businesses.

Chambers may use this funding to support a range of activities that encourage consumers to shop locally in a way that is safe and aligns with current public health guidelines. Chambers may have open calls for proposals from local organizations or businesses that promote consumer awareness and demonstrate benefits to the broader business community. For example:

  • shop-local branding and digital content
  • seasonal campaigns intended to direct shoppers to local small merchants
  • promotions of online shopping, curbside pickup and delivery, as well as public health measures being implemented to make retail spaces safe and raise consumer confidence;
  • marketing materials such as videos, social media visuals, and radio and newspaper ads that encourage consumers to buy from local businesses and patronize local restaurants and attractions.

This investment will be flexible to respond to the unique circumstances in regions across the country and allow chambers of commerce to tailor campaigns to local needs and priorities and ultimately help small businesses as they recover from this unprecedented public economic crisis.

“Economic recoveries begin when the open signs reappear on main Streets across the country. Today’s announcement will help all businesses welcome Canadians back in a safe way and allow them to shop local this summer, fall and upcoming holiday season. This a great first step in supporting our local economies, local jobs and local communities,” added Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The Canadian Chamber has been proud to partner with the government of Canada on several business support initiatives over the last year, ranging from helping provide rapid tests to SMEs across Canada, to helping shape business support programs, to today’s announcement on the Shop Local initiative.”

Shop Local is an important initiative to supplement the Government of Canada’s ongoing and comprehensive support for small and local businesses through programs such as the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program, the Emergency Wage Subsidy, Emergency Rent Subsidy, Lockdown Support, and Emergency Business Account so they are able to get through this pandemic to the recovery and growth that will follow in the months and years to come.