Chamber Network calls for coordinated approach to reopening Ontario’s economy

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Sault Ste. Marie, ON – Today, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce released the following statement:

“In the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, it is difficult to think beyond confronting the immediate demands of COVID-19,” said Michael Stone, President of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. “However, even as we continue supporting each other today, we must also begin looking toward the horizon to ensure businesses are prepared for the province’s reopening and recovery. It is not too early to start planning how our province and economy can emerge stronger while doing everything necessary to avoid further lockdowns.”

Each region’s experience differs significantly across the province when it comes to transmission rates, tracking and tracing capacity, and other variables.  The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have written to the Premier so that when the time comes, Ontario’s businesses have a predictable and coordinated plan to ensure we reopen in a harmonized fashion that prioritizes individual safety as well as economic stability. As a network of Chambers of Commerce, representing businesses across Ontario, we are asking for the following:

  • A readiness plan with a focus on sectors and regions hardest hit. It is critical that Ontario’s employers are aware of how reopening will take place step-by-step so they can properly prepare.
  • Advanced notice. Businesses and their employees need sufficient time to prepare to get back to work.
  • Clear guidelines. Businesses need to clearly understand the rules and how they will be enforced. Inconsistent and unclear public health guidelines cause confusion among businesses, employees, and consumers alike, and make it difficult for individuals to take appropriate action to protect themselves and their communities.
  • Fulsome communication. Educational training via virtual workshops in advance of reopening would equip employers with practical information to help them keep staff and customers safe.
  • Workforce management systems. Employers in Ontario should adopt a scalable digital software tool for routine self-screening and assessment by employees, as part of a comprehensive workforce management system.
  • Rapid testing. Sufficient and timely testing and tracing gets employees back to work quickly, ensuring continued productivity and reduced strain on families.
  • Evidence-based decision making. A strong testing and tracing apparatus ensures the province can accurately assess where and how the virus is spreading, so that efforts to target restrictions can be confidently based on solid data.
  • Leveraging the private sector to support vaccine distribution and deployment. Businesses will be critical in supporting public awareness, logistical capabilities, and best practices.
  • Continued supports for those who need it most. Finally, continued timely and accessible supports for business will prevent further layoffs, closures, and bankruptcies.

“As the government explores options to safely re-open the economy, it is worth noting that businesses already adhere to a number of existing health and safety protocols and will do their part to support a safe re-opening. The business community will continue to prove their commitment to safety protocols to protect their worker and customers to keep their doors open,” added Rory Ring, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.

The letter to the Premier can be read HERE.