Ontario Supports Businesses in Thunder Bay Region

Published on July 09, 2021


Funding helps business owners adapt to health and safety guidelines during COVID-19

July 09, 2021
Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry


THUNDER BAY — The Ontario government is providing more than $3.8 million to help 215 businesses in the Thunder Bay region adapt to COVID-19 public health guidelines and protect employees and customers. The funding is being delivered through the Northern Ontario Recovery Program (NORP) and will support the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), installation of safety equipment, renovations and new construction.

"During the ongoing pandemic period, our government is standing shoulder to shoulder with northern business owners, entrepreneurs and workers across the Thunder Bay region," said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. "COVID-19 has fundamentally changed our day-to-day lives and how we do business. That's why our government is supporting small and medium businesses as we safely and gradually reopen.”

Examples of funding include the following:

  • $25,000 for Best Western Plus Nor’Wester Hotel & Conference Centre to buy PPE, install safety equipment such as plexiglass barriers and floor markings, and purchase equipment such as computer hardware and software to facilitate virtual meetings and conferences.
  • $23,130 for Canada West Maple Products to develop a marketing strategy, purchase PPE, renovate and install safety equipment such as sanitizer stations.
  • $13,722 for Thunder Bay Hydraulics to purchase PPE and safety equipment such as air purifiers, install plexiglass partitions in its retail space, and develop a digital marketing campaign.

NORP was established as a short-term program to help businesses across northern Ontario adjust to the impacts of COVID-19. Applications were accepted until November 20, 2020 and a total of 1384 businesses received funding. A running list of NORP funding recipients is available on the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) website.

On February 11, 2021, the Ontario government launched new and improved NOHFC programs that support more projects in rural northern communities and make it easier for more people and businesses to apply. The programs target existing and emerging markets, provide more work opportunities for Indigenous people and address the skilled labour shortage in the North.



"The Best Western Plus Nor’Wester Hotel & Conference Centre is sincerely grateful for the funding from the Northern Ontario Recovery Program. These much-needed dollars allowed us to pivot quickly in adapting our operations to an ultra-clean and safe environment for our guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. We purchased an additional washing machine for the housekeeping department to accommodate the extra cleaning of linens. The outdoor patio was upgraded to host guests for dining and we purchased AV equipment and lexan dividers for meetings and conferences. A huge thank you to Minister Rickford and the NOHFC for supporting northern businesses during this financially difficult time. It’s great that we in the north can count on you."

- Roberta Sawchyn CHA
General Manager, Best Western Plus Nor’Wester Hotel & Conference Centre

"The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating to our existing core business model of in-person farmers market and restaurant sales. Northern Ontario Recovery Program funding was critical to our company being able to upgrade our bottling plant facilities in Thunder Bay to service a wider range of clients across Ontario with a much larger focus on e-commerce. As a result of this funding, we have secured large contracts with businesses outside of Northern Ontario, allowing us to not only recover, but grow our business substantially and increase employment."

- Sean Murray
President and CEO, Canada West Maple Products

"With support from NOHFC, Thunder Bay Hydraulics has modernized our manufacturing site to better serve our 30 employees and hundreds of customers. Site modernizations and safety upgrades include the addition of indoor air purifiers, advanced PPE for manufacturing services, and the installation of plexiglass barriers for our retail services. We have also improved our digital presence through ecommerce and other online capabilities to minimize face-to-face interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic."

- Jamie Crozier
General Manager, Thunder Bay Hydraulics