|STONEY CREEK — The Ontario government is launching a new Winery Agri-Tourism COVID-19 Relief Initiative to support agri-tourism businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontario wineries and cideries with on-site stores whose business were impacted by COVID-19 safety measures to stop the spread of the virus will be eligible for this one-time grant. Businesses that saw a revenue decline in at least one area of their operations, such as decreased tourism, tours, events and tastings, or have faced increased expenses to comply with public health safety measures for COVID-19 will be eligible to receive support. “Ontario’s wineries and cideries have told us their businesses are being hit hard by the economic impacts of this pandemic and the cancellation of large events and tours,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “With this announcement, our government is taking the necessary steps to provide these businesses with the support they need to continue operating, recover and to maintain these good jobs in the agri-food sector.”
“Our government recognizes the significant impact of the Agri-Tourism sector on Ontario’s social and economy recovery,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “The launch of a new Winery Agri-Tourism Relief Initiative will support and maintain the vital jobs of those who continue to fight to ensure this sector is able to come back stronger than before.”
The 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, committed to providing a one‑time $10 million grant to help wineries and cideries impacted by COVID-19 and to ensure that agricultural production and local jobs are maintained in Ontario’s rural communities. As the delivery agent of the new Winery Agri-Tourism COVID-19 Relief Initiative, Agricorp will send applications for the program directly to eligible wineries and cideries on July 20, 2021.
This new relief initiative builds on government programs that aim to protect jobs and support local producers, including extending the VQA Wine Support Program and the Small Cidery and Small Distillery Support Program to 2022-23.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact for our rural communities and on Ontario’s agri-tourism community, which is exactly why our government is committed to helping them get back on their feet,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “This one-time investment will provide grants to eligible wineries and cideries with on-site stores in 2021, to help them thrive following a tough year.”
- As part of the 2021 Budget, the government committed to providing a one‑time $10 million grant in 2021 to help wineries and cideries impacted by lockdown measures while helping ensure that agricultural production and local jobs are maintained in Ontario’s rural communities. The new Winery Agri-Tourism COVID-19 Relief Initiative will fulfill this commitment by providing grants to eligible wineries and cideries with on-site retail stores in September 2021.
- Through the grant, eligible wineries and cideries will receive a one-time payment based on their sales of wine and cider in 2020-21 in their on-site winery retail store.
- Other supports for the beverage alcohol industry announced in the 2021 Budget include: the extension of OMAFRA’s existing beverage alcohol support programs until 2022-23 providing $15.7 million in funding to wineries, small cideries and small distilleries. For 2021-22 only, the Small Distillery Program’s budget was increased by $1.2 million to provide relief from the impacts of COVID-19. Beginning in spring 2021, Ontario craft beer sales at farmers’ markets were also allowed in Ontario.