ITO Newsletter: Time Is Running Out To Apply For $2500 Digital Transformation Grant From Indigenous Tourism Ontario


11 Days Remain to Apply for the $2500 Digital Transformation Grant

Digital Main Street (DMS) is a program focused on assisting small businesses with their adoption of technologies. The Digital Transformation Grant (DTG) program will provide funding for training, advisory support, and grants to brick-and-mortar small businesses looking increase their capacity through digital transformation.

The objectives of the DMS Grant Program are to provide small business owners a comprehensive plan to guide their digital transformation and provide small businesses with the digital literacy skills needed to execute a digital transformation either through a do-it-yourself approach and/or being a smart consumer when purchasing these services. Eligible costs include:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Website Development/Redesign
  • Digital Training
  • Purchase of Software or Hardware

Applications will continue to be accepted until October 31, 2021 (or until grant funds are exhausted). Learn more about eligibility and apply here.

Please note that ITO’s Indigenous Business Advisors (IBA) are here to support you in your application process. Ask an IBA at

IBA Support Available for New Ontario Tourism Recovery Program (OTRP) Application

Applications are now open for the Ontario Tourism Recovery Program (OTRP). This $100-million program supports Ontario-based tourism businesses in the for-profit attractions, accommodations, and transportation sectors. The OTRP is a competitive, application-based grant program for historically successful, private sector tourism businesses that are significant drivers to their regional tourism economies.

Successful applicants can use funding for expenditures, such as:

  • reopening and operating expenses, including staff salaries and maintenance
  • health and safety measures to support the safety of visitors and workers
  • attracting visitors through tourism product and experience improvements and marketing.

Indigenous owned businesses do not need a CRA Business Number to apply. Please note that ITO’s Indigenous Business Advisors (IBA) are here to answer your questions, address your concerns, and help work through the eligibility and application process. For immediate support, please contact

Full program guidelines and information about how to apply to the program are now available on the Ontario Tourism Recovery Program application pageDeadline to apply is November 10, 2021 at 11:59pm EDT.

Proof of Vaccine Posters for Businesses and Organizations

To supplement the government of Ontario’s guidance document, Proof of Vaccination posters for businesses and organizations are available for print and display:

Other tools and resources, including a questions and answers document, are also available online to help businesses implement the necessary safety measures. Businesses can also contact the Stop the Spread information line at 1-888-444-3659 if they have any questions about the guidance.

A Three Fires Collaborative Quest

Are you an Ontario Tourism Business Looking to Hire?
Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) in collaboration with the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) and the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) are accepting applications for A Three Fires Collaborative Quest Program – a program designed to fill critical gaps within the industry and encourage recovery and growth of the province’s tourism workforce by bringing awareness of opportunities to potential Indigenous employees.

Employer Participation
To apply for the program as an employer, you must be a tourism business in Ontario, and you must be willing to support your new employee’s training and development in collaboration with the program. Potential employees will begin their frontline training this Fall, 2021.

You will be invited to participate in the Employee to Employer Matching event taking place in Winter 2021. Hosted virtually, our online platform will allow you to schedule online interviews with potential employees, and vice-versa, to interview them for your eligible positions in 2022. Upon completion of the program, you will be eligible to receive a wage subsidy of up to 30%, with a maximum of $3,000 per employee hired.

Didn’t catch the interview about A Three Fires Collaborative Quest on 106.5 Element FM? Listen to last week’s Moment of Truth segment to hear Kevin Eshkawkogan, ITO’s President and CEO, discuss more about the program with host David Moses.


IBA Info Night

Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Time: 6:00pm

Mark your calendars! ITO will be hosting an Info Night on Facebook Live to answer Frequently Asked Questions about the Indigenous Business Advisory (IBA) program. We encourage our members to visit, chat, and learn about the Three Fires Collaborative Quest and how it can fill critical gaps within the industry and encourage recovery and growth of the tourism workforce in the province. Questions will be answered by an IBA Live! On November 9th, the Facebook Live stream will become available using the button below. See you then!

Get Involved in the
Annual Ontario Garlic Week

During Ontario Garlic Week, restaurants from all across Ontario will create and sell a food or beverage item using Ontario grown garlic. There is no fee to participate. Ontario Garlic Week unites farmers and food producers wherever they are in an agro-tourism and cultural initiative, because (almost) everyone loves garlic!


  • Inaugural Ontario Garlic Week runs from Friday, Oct 29 – Sunday, Nov 7, 2021
  • Food & Beverage establishments and craftspeople across the province create and sell at least one garlic-inspired item from their location
  • Food items must use Ontario grown garlic
  • Sell via dine-in, patio, take out, delivery, online
  • Participants will be promoted via radio, TV, print and social media, including Attractions Ontario, Global Morning, Edible Ottawa, Edible Toronto, CTV Your Morning and many more to be confirmed

Watch Chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette in the 2020 virtual Toronto Garlic Festival programming and learn more about how to get involved here.

Tagwàgi (Fall) Festival

Date: October 16 – 24
Time: 10:00am-5:00pm daily
Celebrate Tagwàgi (Autumn) at Tagwàgi Festival, the first in a series of seasonal events that will take place at Mādahòkì (to share land) Farm, the National Capital Region’s new Indigenous attraction and gathering place centrally located in Ottawa’s Greenbelt at 4420 W Hunt Club Road. Everyone is invited to reconnect with the land while learning about Indigenous traditions during this beautiful change of season.

CCT 2021 Virtual Symposium

Date: Friday, November 22nd, 2021
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Central Counties Tourism (CCT) invites you to attend the Central Counties Symposium 2021. Highlights from this year’s line-up:


Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Certificate (with QR Code) and Verify Ontario App

As of October 15, 2021, Ontario’s enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificates with scannable QR codes and the Verify Ontario app (to scan the vaccine certificate QR codes) are available for download. The enhanced vaccine certificate will make it more convenient for people to prove they have been fully vaccinated. Combined with the free Verify Ontario app for businesses and organizations, it will also make the process of proving and verifying vaccination status faster, easier, and more secure.

Obtaining Your Vaccine Certificate: 
The vaccine certificate is available for download from the COVID-19 vaccination portal (green photo health card required).

People can save the electronic version of their vaccine certificate to their mobile device or print a paper copy. Businesses must accept both electronic and paper versions.

While vaccine receipts will continue to be accepted, the existing vaccine receipt will no longer be available for download from the COVID-19 vaccination portal as of October 15.  

Individuals who wish to have their vaccine certificate emailed or mailed to them as well as individuals with a red and white health card can call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. This line is available from 8:00am to 8:00pm, 7 days a week, with information available in over 300 languages.

The vaccine certificate (downloadable from the COVID-19 vaccination portal) is the official QR code-based proof of vaccination issued by the Government of Ontario. Third-party QR codes will not be compatible with the Verify Ontario app and cannot be used to access prescribed settings. 

Out-of-Province/Country Vaccine Doses: Obtaining Your Proof of Vaccination  
If you received your first or second COVID-19 vaccine dose out-of-province or out-of-country, contact your local public health unit. They will record your information and you will receive an Ontario receipt that you can access or print from the provincial booking portal.  

Vaccine Certificate for People Not Fully Vaccinated  
If you are not yet fully vaccinated (2 doses plus 14 days), you can still download your vaccine certificate. However, when scanned by the Verify Ontario app, the QR code will not generate approval (I.e., the check mark) to enter a prescribed setting.

See the guidance here for full details about who is considered fully vaccinated in Ontario, including for people who have received vaccine doses not approved by Health Canada. 

Medical Exemptions and the Vaccine Certificate 
At this time, the province is working to integrate medical exemptions into the vaccine certificate. Currently, people with a medical exemption can present a note from a medical doctor or registered nurse. A sample template is available here.

Out-of-province or out-of-country medical documentation will be honoured in Ontario if the individual’s name, the physician’s name, and physician’s contact information are provided. The note must clearly state that there is a medical reason for the individual not to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the effective time-period for the medical reason.  

Using Your Vaccine Certificate  
People will need to continue to show a piece of identification with their name and date of birth along with the vaccine certificate. Businesses must accept both electronic and paper versions.  

People can continue to use their current vaccine receipt (along with a piece of ID) and businesses will continue to accept them. 

The Verify Ontario/VérifOntario App for Businesses and Organizations 
Verify Ontario is a free QR code scanner for businesses that makes it quicker and easier to confirm that visitors have been fully vaccinated:  

  • Available in English and French 
  • Verify Ontario works on Apple and Android devices  
  • Can be used without an internet connection but should be connected to the internet periodically to receive updates  
  • Scans government-issued QR codes presented either on paper or displayed on a mobile device screen  
  • Compatible with other provincial QR codes – starting with British Columbia and Quebec  
  • Never stores personal information  

When scanning the government-issued vaccine certificate QR code, the Verify Ontario app will:  

  • Display a check mark if the individual is fully vaccinated, as well as their name and date of birth. It will not display the type of vaccine received. The person scanning the QR code will be prompted to confirm that the person’s name and DOB match their ID 
  • Display an ‘X’ if the individual is not fully vaccinated. Prompts will be provided about next steps. 
  • Display an error message if the QR code is issued by a different province/country not using a compatible system or if the QR code is issued by a third-party service. Prompts will be provided about next steps.  
  • After scanning the QR code and displaying the results, the Verify Ontario app will automatically reset to the homepage to protect personal data  

Verify Ontario is the only app that the Government of Ontario endorses for use. It is currently available for download from the Google Play and Apple App stores.

Canada-US Border is Opening to Fully Vaccinated Non-Essential Travellers Early November

Starting in early November, the US will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the country for non-essential reasons, such as tourism (there is currently no set date of when the border will re-open). A part of the standard U.S. Customs and Border Protection process, travellers entering the US by vehicle, rail and ferry will be asked about their vaccination status and at officers’ discretion, travellers will have their proof of vaccination verified in a secondary screening process.  While currently, a negative COVID-19 test is required for air travel to enter the US, there will be no testing required to enter the US by land or sea, provided the travellers meet the vaccination requirement. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US will accept travellers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization. As such, the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted. The CDC is still formalizing procedures for admitting those who have received doses of two different vaccines. Read the CBC News coverage here

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