News, updates, and so much more…


This message is to let you know about some of the ways you can create or enhance your businesses digital presence with Digital Main Street this year. For starters the $2500 Digital Transformation Grant (DTG) is back and the portal is now open for application submissions! If you had previously begun an application for this round of funding, you can login to the portal and pick back up where you left off. I’ve attached the FAQ sheet that outlines the eligibility requirements on page 1, the application steps on page 3, and the list of eligible costs on page 2. 
Digital Main Street also has many tools, resources and vendors that businesses can access to help with their digital adoption such as our FREE ShopHERE website builder program. Qualifying businesses also have access to 1:1 digital support through the Digital Service Squad (that’s me!) — you can get assistance with Google Business, 360 photos, email marketing, social media and more! Book a call with me to learn more about the DTG, ShopHERE and the other ways Digital Main Street and the Digital Service Squad can help to create or enhance your online presence. 
Last but certainly not least, we have an upcoming Digital Main Street In-Person Workshop that will be taking place in Port Colborne on February 6th from 1 pm to 4 pm at L.R. Wilson Heritage Research Archives. The Workshop will cover This workshop will cover digital tools, software, and apps that you can use to efficiently manage your small business. From accounting to scheduling, file sharing to project management, there are digital tools to help with every aspect of running a small business. This beginner-level workshop will help you learn what’s out there to help you manage with efficiency and ease. For more information and to register for the event please visit the Eventbrite page!
Thank you for taking the time to read through this message. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or require my support.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,

Tianna Thomas 

Digital Service Squad Member

e: QZF@qbjagbjajryynaq.pn 

a: 60 East Main St., Welland ON, L3B  3W3

w: www.digitalmainstreet.ca



Government of Ontario announces $936 million to build and maintain community housing

During the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced that the government is providing more than $936 million in much-needed funds to municipal service managers and Indigenous program administrators in 2023-24 and 2024-25 through initiatives under the National Housing Strategy to maintain and create more community housing.

This includes an increase of over $23 million in funding under the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit for women and children fleeing violence.

Minister Clark also announced the province is extending the deadline for implementation projects approved under Intake 3 of the Municipal Modernization Program (MMP) to streamline, digitize and modernize their services, including managing and approving applications for residential developments.

Click here to read more.

Blackowned905, Future Black Female join forces to create space for Black owned business in downtown St. Catharines

While representation has come a long way, we still have a long way to go, especially in the business space.

That’s why Future Black Female and Blackowned905, both based out of downtown St. Catharines, have come together to create an entrepreneurship program to help Black-owned businesses get on their feet.

Called “Marketplace Bootcamp,” the program is looking for Black-woman-owned businesses in Niagara, run by someone from 18 to 25 years old.

The program will require being able to commit 25 to 45 hours a week, including Saturdays.

Through their program, a Black-owned business that’s already ready to go would be given a storefront inside of the Corbloc on King Street. Click here to read more.


Passport backlog ‘virtually eliminated,’ delivery back to pre-pandemic timelines

Today, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould updated Canadians that passport delivery has returned to pre-pandemic processing times, the backlog has been virtually eliminated, and Service Canada is exceeding its delivery standard for most applications.

Since October 3, 2022, all passport applications received, both in person and by mail, have been processed within pre-pandemic service standards.

The Government’s service delivery standard is 10 days to process in-person passport applications received at a specialized passport office and 20 days for applications received by mail or dropped off at a Service Canada Centre. Because of additional staffing, increased overtime and improved efficiency, Service Canada is delivering most passports by our 10- and 20-day target, achieving a 95% and 98% rate for complete applications, respectively.

Click here to read more.

.Port Colborne’s Digital Service Squad is hosting a free workshop for small business owners on Feb. 6, 2023, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the L. R. Wilson Heritage Research Archives (286 King Street). Focused on the theme of “Digital Tools, Software, and Apps for Managing your Small Business”, reserve your spot right now by registering on Eventbrite.

Niagara Health announces 2023-2028 Strategic Plan

Niagara Health, the hospital system for the region, has announced its 2023-2028 Strategic Plan. By 2028, Niagara Health intends to:

  • Ensure a positive patient experience with a focus on the increasing demands of our aging community and work with specific patient populations, beginning with Indigenous partners, to improve care;
  • Deliver consistent, high-quality care across all sites, using technology and data, which will get easier with the  implementation of our new hospital information system;
  • Fully transition to a regional model with two acute care sites, including the opening of the new South Niagara Site hospital and one ambulatory care site; and
  • Continue to build an inclusive and collaborative workplace with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Click here to download a copy of the plan (PDF link).

Click here to read more.

Canada and United States announce new NEXUS interview option to expand enrolment capacity

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are moving forward with a new option to increase the enrolment capacity for new and renewing NEXUS members. The binational NEXUS program benefits communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border by supporting economic growth and trade, reducing border congestion and expediting the crossing of low-risk, pre-approved travellers.

Earlier this month, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, and Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, announced measures that expand the program’s capacity and enrol the thousands of travellers who request NEXUS memberships each month.

This new enrolment option for air travellers should be available by Spring 2023.

Click here to read more.

Bell Let’s Talk Day promotes mental health for 2023

Now in its thirteenth year, Bell Let’s Talk Day has funded mental health resources with 1,400 partners that have helped a total of 5,556,332 Canadians. Visit letstalk.bell.ca for more information and to get involved.

This year, Niagara College is one organization receiving funds, and was allocated $100,000 in funding over two years from the Bell Let’s Talk Post-Secondary Fund in support of its development and implementation of a Mental Health and Well-Being Framework.

In a statement, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, highlighted the need to “fight the stigma surrounding mental illness, shift attitudes, and encourage meaningful action to create positive change.”

“Although much work remains to put an end to these worrying trends,” the Minister continued, “we also have a unique opportunity to shape a future in which all Canadians have the mental health literacy needed to take better care of ourselves and our communities. We can achieve this by listening without judgement when someone reaches out, engaging in more conversations about mental illness to counter stigma, and learning how to support others with their mental health or substance use.”

You can check out Jack.org’s Be There Certificate as a great place to start or visit mentalhealthliteracy.org to enrich your own understanding of mental health, mental illness and how our brains function.

If you’re struggling, the Wellness Together Canada (WTC) portal is a great on-line resource that provides access to free mental health and substance use supports, online, by phone or text 24/7. WTC offers services in both official languages, and phone-counselling sessions are available in 200 languages and dialects through instantaneous interpretation. PocketWell, WTC’s free companion app, provides the same resources in a convenient format and includes an additional self-assessment tool and tracker that monitors mood and mental well-being.

Indigenous Peoples who need urgent, culturally-sensitive support, crisis intervention, or referrals to community-based services can access experienced counsellors through the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or through their website.

Bank of Canada announces 25 basis point interest rate hike, expects to hold while assessing economic situation

The Bank of Canada today increased its target for the overnight rate to 4½%, with the Bank Rate at 4¾% and the deposit rate at 4½%. The Bank is also continuing its policy of quantitative tightening.

Global inflation remains high and broad-based. Inflation is coming down in many countries, largely reflecting lower energy prices as well as improvements in global supply chains.

The Bank estimates the global economy grew by about 3½% in 2022, and will slow to about 2% in 2023 and 2½% in 2024. This projection is slightly higher than October’s.

The Bank’s ongoing program of quantitative tightening is complementing the restrictive stance of the policy rate. If economic developments evolve broadly in line with the MPR outlook, Governing Council expects to hold the policy rate at its current level while it assesses the impact of the cumulative interest rate increases.

Inflation in Canada is still too high but has declined from its peak, the Bank noted in its monetary policy report. As the effects of higher interest rates continue to spread through the economy, and with declines in energy prices and improved supply chains, inflation is projected to fall to around 3% in the middle of 2023 and reach the 2% target in 2024.

Click here to read more.


Niagara College Performance Therapy clinic opens to community clients

The reopening of Niagara College’s Performance Therapy Clinic at the Welland Campus is a leap forward for students seeking experience in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, as well as community clients seeking treatment.

The Performance Clinic, which reopened at the College’s Welland Campus on January 16 for the first time since 2020, offers physiotherapy assessments and treatment sessions at a reduced cost for staff, students and the public, as well as an in-demand occupational therapy pediatric fine motor skills occupational therapy program for local residents, expected to help alleviate wait times in the community.

Click here to read more.


Alexis Higginbotham
Executive Director
60 East Main Street
Welland, ON
L3B 3X4
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Welland, Ontario L3B 3X4

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