Published July 6, 2020

Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries Tele-Townhall Meeting: “Northern Ontario Tourism” – July 06, 2020

July 06, 2020 – Hon. Lisa MacLeod hosted her seventh Tele Town Hall meeting. This instalment was focused on Northern Ontario Tourism, and she was joined with Hon. Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs.

Some key highlights from the call:

  • MacLeod and the HSTC Ministry announced new $18M in funding for Northern Ontario
    • Regional Tourism Organizations (RTOs): $5M
    • Ontario Arts Council (OAC): $274K
    • Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF): $8.2M
    • RTO marketing: $350K 
    • Indigenous tourism fund: $300K
    • 27 festivals/events
  • This is in addition to previous announcement of $13M to local marketing strategies (further details on this funding are unclear)
  • The Ministry is focused right now on promoting “hyper-local tourism”; and will expand as borders reopen.
  • MacLeod continues her cross-Ontario tour visiting with stakeholders but also showing Ontario that is safe to travel; will be visiting Northern Ontario for a week during Phase 3
  • Ministry polling indicates Ontarians believe each of the following activities are safe to do immediately or in the next 1-2weeks: stay in a hotel 12% in ON; eating inside at a restaurant 13%; travel by airplane 6%; and visit a movie theatre 7%.
  • Events and programmes this summer are encouraged to be nimble as restrictions might lift.
  • Continuing to work with the Federal Government and pushing for more clarity on reopening the US border as many rely on US tourists; more clarification can help for longer-term planning and allocation of funds.

MacLeod stated she would be making another larger announcement later this week as well as hosting another province-wide tele town hall this week (date TBA).

“In a year and a half from now, we need to think about what do we want Ontario to look like?”

Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries Tele-Townhall Meeting June 10, 2020

JUNE 10 , 2020 – Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Lisa MacLeod hosted a Tele-Townhall meeting to provide an update on the Province’s response to COVID-19 and how they are helping our sector.

The Ministry polled Ontarians to understand the social crisis that the sector will be facing. Ontarians do not anticipate being comfortable doing even the daily tasks they did pre-COVID. It was indicated that only 9% of Ontarians would attend a gallery or museum and only 7% would let their kids participate in classes, programming, or events.

The Ministry is strategizing it’s marketing efforts in three stages:

  • Support Local
  • Promote domestic travel and tourism
  • Promote International travel and tourism

The Ministry is developing ‘Shop Local’ and ‘Support Local strategies and is taking a leading role in showcasing the safety of Ontario’s tourism, sport, culture and heritage attractions.

Ontario Live also launched during the Tele-Town Hall. Ontario Live is a new virtual hub designed to promote and support the province’s tourism and cultural industries.

A recording the Tele-Townhall, June 10th, is available here.

Tele-Townhall Meetings Summaries and Recordings

May 20, 2020
A Recording of the Tele-Town Hall is Available Here
Highlights of the Town Hall:

  • Since the beginning of shut-downs, our sector has already lost $17.6 billion dollars with a total of 350,000 jobs lost. With each phase of COVID-19, additional questions are raised in how the province is reopening the economy.
  • The Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Ontario Arts Council, and Celebrate Ontario will continue to have funds and will be released in the upcoming weeks.
  • The Ministry will be working with the OAC to advance 2020 Operating Grants as soon as possible so recipients can receive immediate support. The Province is still supporting the OAC with the $60 million each year.
  • Funding will be given to the Art Gallery of Ontario and Royal Botanical Gardens to assist with re-opening.
  • Support is being given to libraries, and 380 libraries will receive $21 million dollars in support.

April 23, 2020
Highlights from Minister MacLeod’s Tele-Townhall Meeting:
– Minister MacLeod has spoken with the Minister of Canadian Heritage to discuss how the $500 million should be allocated. Minister MacLeod is advocating that Ontario receives 40% or the equivalent of the province’s population of the $500 million funds.
– Ontario museums and cultural organizations will have a major role in how the province reopens, and have been looking at the best practices around the world to help inform reopening decisions. The Minister is looking to have a plan completed within 4-6 weeks.
– The province will be launching ‘Ontario Live’ a virtual marketplace that brings Ontario together to help support local artists, operators, attractions and businesses throughout the province.

April 9, 2020
– There is an emphasis on plans for recovery, rebuilding, and reemergence.
– The Minister is working with advisory committee groups comprised of different elements of the Ministry to work on sector-specific solutions.
– Working with the OAC to release operating grants as soon as possible and to flow funding.
– Asks for organizations to work with their local MPPS and to think about what recovery looks like in your industries.
-Increased funding to the Ontario Trillium Foundation in the next months to help not-for-profits deliver services and programs.

March 26, 2020

March 19, 2020

May 12, 2020: COVID-19 Advisory Councils Released

The Ontario government is engaging partners in the heritage, sport, tourism and culture sectors in order to gather critical feedback on how best to reopen the economy. This input will inform decisions as the government implements its Framework for Reopening our Province document which was released in April 2020.

ON May 12th, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, was joined by Premier Doug Ford to speak with chairs from sector-specific Ministerial Advisory Councils. These leaders represent a broad range of organizations and are best positioned to identify opportunities for a sector-led response to the economic challenges caused by the outbreak. These Ministerial Advisory Councils will meet on a regular basis starting immediately and provide their written feedback to the ministry later this month.

“The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for Ontario’s heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries with an economic loss in the billions,” said Minister MacLeod. “Through these Ministerial Advisory Councils, I will work directly with sector leaders to discuss the challenges they face, and ensure their industries are well positioned for a faster re-emergence and successful recovery from the effects of the outbreak.”

The Ministerial Advisory Councils are:

Airlines and Airports Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Jeffrey Brown, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Porter Airlines
  • Lorrie McKee, Director, Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Amateur Sport and Recreation Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Cyril Leeder, Co-founder, Ottawa Senators

Debbie Low, CEO, Canadian Sport Institute Ontario

Arts & Culture “Toronto Big 8” Council

  • Chair – Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head, Toronto International Film Festival

Book & Magazine Publishing Council

  • Chair – Michael Levine, Generic Productions Inc.

Festivals, Events and Local Community Attractions Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Marie Lalonde, Executive Director, Ontario Museums Association
  • Troy Young, CEO, Attractions Ontario

Film and Television Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Christina Jennings, Founder, Chair and CEO, Shaftesbury Films
  • Jim Mirkopolous, Vice President, Cinespace Film Studios

Hoteliers & Hospitality Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Colin Morrison, General Manager, Ottawa Embassy Hotels & Suites and Chair, Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association
  • Terry Mundell, President and CEO, Greater Toronto Hotel Association

Interactive Digital Media Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Lucie Lalumière, President and CEO, Interactive Ontario
  • Lesley Phord-Toy, Corporate Affairs Director, Ubisoft
  • Mary Sorrenti, Vice President of Operations and Finance, Game Pill

Ministry Attractions and Agencies Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Josh Basseches, Director and CEO, Royal Ontario Museum
  • Lorenz Hassenstein, President and CEO, Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Music Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Erin Benjamin, President and CEO, Canadian Live Music Association
  • Allan Reid, President and CEO, The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences/The JUNO Awards and MusiCounts

Ontario Live Council

  • Chair – Barry Avrich, Canadian film producer/director and Partner, BT/A Advertising

Professional Sport Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner, Canadian Football League
  • Cyril Leeder, Co-founder, Ottawa Senators

Tourism Leaders Council

  • Co-Chairs
  • Anthony Annunziata, President, Tourism Partnership of Niagara
  • Scott Beck, President and CEO, Tourism Toronto


  • Stakeholders are reporting a collective economic impact of $17.6 billion over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Input provided by the advisory councils will support the work of the government’s Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee.
  • Advisory councils will consist of individuals, invited by Minister MacLeod, for their sector specific experience and expertise. The council meetings will be facilitated by the Chair(s).
  • Each advisory council will meet up to four times, either by telephone or video conference

April 27, 2020: Reopening Ontario

The Ontario Government released how the province will be approaching the reopening of the province. Ontario has developed a framework to guide its approach and outlines the method and principles that will be used to reopen businesses, services and public spaces to responsibly lead Ontario’s economy back to a strong position. 

It is stressed that reopening will be a gradual, staged approach and rolled out in three stages:

Stage 1: Opening select workplaces that can meet current public health guidelines and open some outdoor spaces. Stage 1 will also allow essential gatherings of a limited number of people and will have continued protections vulnerable populations.

Stage 2: Opening more workplaces with significant mitigation plans and opening more public spaces. The province will allow some larger public gatherings and will continue protections for vulnerable populations.

Stage 3: In the final stage, the province will open all workplaces responsibly, relax restrictions on public gatherings, and continue protections for vulnerable populations. 

There will be considerations for each stage. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will advise the government on when it may begin to ease public health measures using a range of criteria including: 

  • a consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID‑19 cases
  • sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment
  • approximately 90% of new COVID‑19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread
  • ongoing testing of suspected COVID‑19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly

For Ontario’s full reopening strategy and information, visit *here*.

You can find a complete list of essential businesses here.