Ontario Chamber Calls for Increased Supports, Stronger Testing & Contact TracingDecember 21, 2020
(Toronto – December 21, 2020) – Today, Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce released the following statement as new COVID-19 lockdown measures and restrictions loom for the entire province of Ontario:
“The immediate threat to Ontarians, business, and workers is the virus. COVID-19 cases continue to spike despite regional lockdown measures that have been put in place throughout the province. Regardless of restrictions, if businesses across Ontario are shut down through increased lockdown measures, both our economic stability and the ability of small businesses to remain solvent into the New Year remain at stake.
“With talk of lockdown measures being expanded, government should increase supports to help ensure that struggling businesses have a chance at surviving the second wave. New measures must result in a light at the end of the tunnel so businesses can safely reopen and our small businesses are given a chance to recover.
“Almost one year into the pandemic and we still do not have adequate contact tracing and testing in Canada. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce continues to call for rapid testing and effective contact tracing which will allow government to take targeted action against community spread and virus hotspots.
“We are grateful for the response from all levels of government to help protect public health while safeguarding Ontario businesses and their employees. However, we remain deeply concerned about the pandemic’s impact on businesses across the province; in particular, small businesses and their employees, which are in jeopardy through no fault of their own.
“We are calling for the following to ensure that small businesses can survive the pandemic as well as continue to serve and support local communities and their recovery efforts:
- A small business pandemic relief plan. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and our economy; we need to see them through to the other side of the pandemic. We need a fair and comprehensive plan for both immediate and long-term relief.
- Clear communication and guidelines. Small businesses need clear communication when changes to public health guidelines occur, and sufficient time to implement them. Detailed communications and support to make those public health changes happen would help ease one of the challenges of lockdown.
- Rapid testing and improved contact tracing. Public health officials need more accurate data to take targeted action against community spread and virus hotspots. Much of the frustration coming from the business community is related to insufficient or anecdotal evidence about super-spreader events. A stronger testing and tracing apparatus will ensure that public health officials can more accurately assess where and how the virus is spreading, ensuring that any efforts to target restrictions are evidenced-based.
- Targeted supports for businesses. It is important the Government of Ontario is looking out for businesses that may fall through the gaps of both federal and provincial supports; and that applications for relief funding are easy to complete, that money is distributed quickly, and that businesses are also able to access support, regardless of their regional restrictions.
- Introducing arrivals testing in Ontario airports. This would provide an added, stronger measure to protect our communities from COVID-positive travelers and protect small businesses from potential further spread.”
About the Ontario Chamber of Commerce
For more than a century, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has been the independent, non-partisan, indispensable partner of Ontario business. The OCC’s mission is to support economic growth in Ontario by defending business priorities at Queen’s Park on behalf of its network’s diverse 60,000 members.
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