TORONTO – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling on the Ford government to revise its plan to reopen and “immediately reopen” parts of Ontario’s economy, including retail stores, restaurants and non-essential gyms.
In an open letter released Tuesday, the CFIB criticized the Ford government’s reopening plan for being too slow and urged the premier to revise Ontario’s reopening dates to be “in line with other provinces. “.
âYes, other provinces have used business closures at various times during the pandemic. But no jurisdiction in North America – and very few in the world – has closed businesses during the time that businesses are closed in Ontario, âthe letter said.
âFrom decisions such as the closure of ski slopes and golf courses to the complete shutdown of non-essential retailers and hair salons, the phrase ‘Ontario only’ has been all too common throughout the pandemic. In British Columbia, retailers have never been closed to in-store customers.
Ontario’s stay-at-home order will expire tomorrow, but the province has said it has no plans to begin Stage 1 of the reopening plan, which will see patio dining and businesses reopen non-essential retail at 15% capacity, until approximately June 14 Hair salons are not expected to reopen in Ontario until July, when the province enters Phase 2, and gyms will remain closed until the end of July. ‘Ontario is entering phase 3, probably not until the end of July or August.
“Tomorrow is supposed to be the day our retailers, restaurant terraces, gyms and hair salons will finally reopen their doors after two long months of province-wide lockdown,” the CFIB letter continued.
âInstead, Ontario’s plan to reopen keeps them closed for at least two more weeks, and many for much longer. Meanwhile, COVID cases continue a strong downward trend, and estimates show vaccinations have already reached the first dose threshold for stage 2. “
The province saw a significant drop in the number of new infections on Tuesday, reporting a daily case count of just 699, the lowest single-day total since October.
Outgoing chief medical officer of health for Ontario, Dr David Williams, said he would like the number of cases to drop to between 500 and 600 for several days before easing restrictions. The Ford government had previously confirmed that nothing would reopen in the province for two weeks after 60% of all adults received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a milestone the province reached last week.
CFIB urges the province to immediately reopen all retail stores to 20% capacity, restaurants with outdoor seating and limited indoor service, hair salons and barbers by appointment, as well as gyms and recreational activities on appointment.
âI think we’ve been locked up in Ontario for so long that we started to think that what we’re doing here is normal, that it’s the way other jurisdictions, even other Canadian provinces handle COVID restrictions,â and we point out to the Prime Minister that nothing we are doing here is normal. No one is blocking as long as Ontario has done it, as deeply as Ontario has done it, âDan Kelly, President and CEO of CFIB, told CP24 on Tuesday.
âSure, other provinces have used locks, but they haven’t locked everyone and thrown away the key like we have here in Ontario.â
The CFIB, which represents approximately 38,000 small businesses in Ontario, is also asking the province to adjust its reopening plan to allow areas with fewer cases and hospitalizations to reopen faster than areas with higher rates of transmission of COVID-19. The group is also calling on the provincial government to provide a “detailed timeline” for the full reopening of the economy, including events and entertainment, and to approve a third round of funding through the Ontario Support Grant. small enterprises.
âTime is running out for small business owners in Ontario to keep their businesses afloat. Many have used up their personal savings and, starting in July, will begin to lose access to federal funding programs while being completely shut down by the province, âthe CFIB letter concludes.
“Quick action must be taken now to start reopening the provincial economy in a bid to save small businesses.”
The restrictions will remain in place when the stay-at-home order expires
The province confirmed on Tuesday that no new businesses will reopen when the stay-at-home order expires tomorrow.
“We have seen great progress in our fight against COVID-19 in recent weeks, but now is not the time to let our guard down,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a written statement.
READ MORE: What happens after Ontario’s stay-at-home order ends on Wednesday?
âWith the stay-at-home order expiring, we need to provide people with certainty so they can continue to follow public health guidelines. This will help us achieve our goal of gradually starting to lift some restrictions as we enter the first stage of the roadmap when it is safe to do so. “
While the provincial government has not confirmed whether talks are underway to reopen parts of the economy earlier than June 14, Kelly said he heard rumors that the province was considering reopening some businesses as early as this Friday. .
âThis would be good news for small businesses that get hung up on their fingernails. Right now, I hope we’ll see that, âhe said.
âMany, many MPs, including government MPs, are very frustrated with their own prime minister, with their own government, and they told me they were working behind the scenes to try to get the government to pass a different tact, and that includes members of the Ontario cabinet.
Kelly said if the province plans to allow businesses to reopen on Friday, advance notice will be required.
âBusinesses need a little bit of latency to be able to get things right. I mean restaurants need to rearrange fresh produce, staff need to be called back, âhe said.
âWe need to make sure business owners are forewarned a bit, but look, if we can get the message across tomorrow that businesses will be allowed to potentially open as early as Fridayâ¦ this will provide some businesses with at least one avenue for potentially the to do. “