Update on NOTO’s Lobbying Efforts – Feb 1st

Update on NOTO’s Lobbying Efforts
Written by: Laurie Marcil, Executive Director
This week I joined TIAO’s tourism delegation made up of my colleagues in the other sector organizations at the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association annual conference (virtually). We had the opportunity to meet with 10 Ministers and senior level staff from 14 different Ministries, the Attorney General, the NDP Caucus and the leader of the Green Party. This event is like “speed dating”, you have a set time of anywhere between 15 minutes to 45 minutes with Government officials to bring a specific list of asks directly to them.
Our messages were very clear, the tourism industry has been forgotten and needs the Provincial Government for financial support in order to survive another year of uncertainty. Particularly on the Ontario Small Business Support Grant we asked for all Cabinet Ministers to support modifying the program eligibility requirements to include accommodators and to allow flexibility in the comparative revenue month as April is generally not a revenue generating month in any sector. We are optimistic that we will see changes to this program in the near future.
I sought support for crown resource fees for our sector to be waived again in 2021 and for the development of grant programs to cover fixed costs and expansion projects specifically for tourism businesses through the NOHFC.
This week much of my focus was at the Provincial level. We are now doing follow up with those Ministers/Ministries that we met with and will continue to apply all of our resources to advocating for programs, and reduction of red tape. We are also asking for the Ontario Government to support us in our requests at the Federal level on our top two asks more meaningful financial support for seasonal tourism businesses as well as for them to consult with us on their plans for a safe reopening of our border now.
Some of you have contacted me recently about the letters you have received regarding moose hunting for 2021 and I know that many of you have questions. We are reviewing the details of the letter now and will be looking to MNRF next week to provide clarification. In the meantime, if any of you have specifics that you would like us to seek clarity, please contact me directly.
This continues to be a very challenging time for all of you and I encourage all of you to reach out to someone when you are feeling low. I know from experience that it helps. Sometimes just saying what you are feeling or are concerned about out loud can bring strength and quiet your mind. Take time for yourself. Get outdoors and away from the news and social media for a period of time every day. Our mental health is so important.
With the unlikelihood that the border will reopen for a truncated summer season or at all this year, we encourage each of you to create a plan A and a plan B. For those of you who are truly struggling with creating your plans for this coming season, reach out . If we can’t help, we have contacts that can.
That being said, we have not given up. We are continuing our work with our Northern Border Working Group as you will see in this newsletter.
As for the week ahead, we are continuing to press on for supports at every level. We have several key meetings coming up and we are optimistic that we will make progress.
Thank you to those who renewed their membership or joined this week. We know that times are tough and if you need to discuss options for paying your membership this year give us a call. Remember, your membership dollars support our advocacy efforts.
Stay strong and be well,
Laurie Marcil