Small Firms Urge Provinces To Adopt “Stay Open” Plans With New Petition

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Nearly four in five business owners are concerned that more lockdowns could impact their business in the fall

With many small businesses having lost a year or more to lockdowns, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling on provincial governments to adopt stay-open strategies now, so any possible resurgences of COVID-19 do not lead to further business closures. CFIB has sent a letter to premiers outlining its stay open strategy and launched a new petition business owners can sign at cfib.ca/stayopen.

“Provinces have done a good job of putting reopening plans in place, but very few have stated their intention to stay open and released detailed plans on how they will do that,” said CFIB Executive Vice-President Laura Jones.

Ontario has been by far the most lockdown-happy province, and as a result businesses like indoor fitness and gyms, indoor dining restaurants, and event venues have lost more than a year to lockdowns since the pandemic started,” added Ryan Mallough, Senior Director of Provincial Affairs for Ontario at CFIB. “We can’t go back to that in the fall – small businesses need to know that they will be allowed to remain open going forward.”

The majority (87 per cent) of business owners say they want their provincial governments to adopt a “Stay Open” strategy that aims to avoid further lockdowns, while protecting the health care system. CFIB’s proposed stay-open plan includes:

  • Clear, evidence-based communications around risks and any decisions leading to additional restrictions
  • Direct provincial funding in place prior to announcing additional restrictions
  • The attention of government and the public on hospitalization rates rather than case counts
  • More use of rapid testing, if needed
  • Proof of vaccination for travel and large events, if needed

“The last 16 months have been incredibly hard on small business owners, not only financially, but emotionally as well. They can’t take more lockdowns. Provincial governments have the opportunity to reassure businesses that lockdowns are an extraordinary measure that will only be used now as a last resort by announcing a clear policy that keeping things open is a priority,” concluded Jones.

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