CFIB, business owners call for regional and national reopening plans
RENFREW, ONT. -- The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has penned a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for a detailed reopening plan for businesses across Canada.
“Governments, both the federal and provincial, have been very slow in providing any light at the end of the tunnel, or suggestions as to how the economy will get back to permanent operations,” says CFIB President Dan Kelly. “We can’t turn the switch in two seconds here. We’ve got to re-hire staff, get inventory in place.”
With vaccination rates continuing to climb across Canada, Kelly is asking for a plan that will point to specific numbers or dates, allowing businesses to plan ahead.
“What vaccine rates will need to be in place? What levels of hospitalization or death rates we will need to see before certain types of activities are permitted once again,” asks Kelly.
Lisa Grisons runs one of those businesses that are anxiously awaiting a reopening plan. Her coffee shop, Ottawa Valley Coffee in Renfrew, opened at the beginning of March, meaning a majority of its existence has been under lockdown.
“We delayed our opening from March thinking by then the vaccine rollout will happen and we’ll be in such better shape,” explains Grison.
Now into the middle of May, her store has been unable to open to its full potential, offering not only food and drink, but also retail and event space.
“To be able to welcome people inside is hugely important for us, especially because that’s where our retail is for our local vendors,” says Grison. “It helps support local families who are making these goods.”
Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday that a re-opening plan for Ontario would be coming “very soon”, following plans already announced by Saskatchewan and Quebec.
“The last thing we want is to go into it too quickly and get into a fourth wave,” said Elliott. “We have to do everything we can to avoid that. So we are working on that and we expect [the plan] will be available very soon.”
“I think the best thing that we could have right now is a plan so that we can say on this date you’re going to be allowed to reopen, plan for it, and stick to that date,” says Grison, hoping this will be the last lockdown or lockdown extension.
To Kelly, the announcement of a reopening plan would represent hope to business owners, and says every day that passes, the threat of more closures loom.
“Businesses need a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel,” says Kelly. “Even if that tunnel is not going to end tomorrow, we need to know when governments think we’ll be able to start to reduce some of the restrictions.”