To highlight the concerns expressed by our Members, our Northern Ontario Chamber Coalition sent the following letter to Premier Doug Ford.
June 29, 2020
Honourable Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Ford:
CLARITY ON REOPENING RESTRICTIONS ARE VITAL TO BUSINESS SUCCESS
Thank you for your continued leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and for all that you are doing to support the business community in these challenging times.
Businesses across Northern Ontario have been resuming operations as outlined in the Phase Two protocols; however, there continues to be confusion relating to the restrictions that are in place and the resulting impacts. One often-cited example is that churches are permitted to hold religious services at 30% of building capacity with physical distancing in place; however, other indoor meetings with physical distancing in conference rooms, office boardrooms, movie theatres, and restaurants are not yet permitted.
We are also aware of situations in which local health authorities are interpreting and imposing guidelines differently. For example, the Ministry of Health states that some types of businesses are encouraged to ask for personal contact info, but not required to. This has resulted in some health authorities interpreting this aspect of Phase Two to be a mandatory requirement and are threatening some small businesses with closure if they do not comply. This is not helpful, as large chains and “essential” businesses are neither required nor encouraged to collect personal data.
We completely agree that public health must remain a top priority. Regretfully, the lack of clarity, both in the way restrictions are designed and in their application at the local level, is leading to significant confusion and frustration for business owners and their customers. We encourage the Government of Ontario to ensure clear guidelines, and to identify standardized approaches to building capacity restrictions (ie: 30% of building capacity) that can be applied broadly across many business sectors to reduce confusion and to support economic success.
Thank you for your consideration.
Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce
North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce
Sault Ste Marie Chamber of Commerce
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce
Timmins Chamber of Commerce
c. Hon. Christine Elliot, Minister of Health
Hon. Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs
Hon. Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
Hon. Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges & Universities