OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson is telling small business owners that the City of Ottawa is looking for ways to help them get through the COVID-19 crisis.

In a memo to Councllors, Watson says staff will assess measures to support locally-owned shops and restaurants, and evaluate possible tax deferral measures to help some small businesses manage their cash flow and payroll obligations.

Watson spoke with the head of BIAs, the Ottawa Board of Trade, Ottawa Tourism and Ottawa Festival Network on Monday to discuss the situation.

Several restaurants, bars and other businesses have announced they will be closing their doors immediately due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Museums, the National Arts Centre and other tourism attractions have closed.

In a statement, Watson said “through these very challenging times, we must come together to find ways to support Ottawa’s small businesses, restaurants, tourism operators and special events – as well as their employees, who are all hurting deeply as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Watson will co-chair an Economic Partners Task Force with Councillor Eli El-Chantiry. The task force will advise staff in many departments on how the city can help the business community as the pandemic evolves.

Other members of the Economic Partners Task Force are:

  • Michael Crockatt, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism
  • Mark Kaluski, Chair, Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas
  • Sueling Ching, President and CEO, Ottawa Board of Trade
  • Lise Sarazin, directrice generale, Regroupement des gens d’affairs
  • Carole Anne Piccinin, Executive Director, Ottawa Festival Network

Watson says the City of Ottawa is “committed to working with all its economic development partners over the coming weeks, as we help support our restaurants and small business owners get through this pandemic. We will also be there to help with the economic recovery once our community overcomes these challenging times for all."