May 28, 2021
Dear Premier Ford:
I am writing on behalf of the hundreds of businesses in Thunder Bay that will be impacted by the recently announced Roadmap to Reopen. Thunder Bay District businesses have been operating under Grey-Lockdown restrictions since March 1 due to a surge in COVID cases at that time. As such, businesses that have been designated as “non-essential” have been closed or operating with severely limited capacity (curbside or take-out only) for 20 weeks of the first 22 weeks in 2021. These businesses and the entire community have been eagerly awaiting the return to reduced restrictions. We have all worked incredibly hard to control the spread, reducing our case counts from what was then the highest in the province, to our current situation of 11 weekly cases per 100,000 population, which would place our region in Green-Prevent measures under the former colour-coded framework.
Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen is a significant disappointment to the local business community and we firmly believe the plan should be reconsidered for a number of reasons:
- Ontario’s plan is regressive, setting out operating measures that for many sectors are more restrictive than those implemented in the previous Grey-Lockdown measures despite high vaccination rates that will greatly reduce COVID transmission.
- The plan’s one-size approach is based on province-wide health indicators that do not consider the regional realities of Ontario’s Northern and Rural communities where transmission is low and hospital capacity is high.
- The plan is inflexible and does not encourage innovative approaches such as outdoor commerce, customer scheduling/capacity limits and rapid testing that could allow all businesses to operate safely.
- The plan is out-of-step with the reopening plans of many other provinces and will delay Ontario’s economic recovery and deter interprovincial tourism opportunities.
We strongly encourage you to immediately revise the Roadmap to Reopen to ensure that it offers:
- measures that allow all businesses to reopen with appropriate safety measures and capacity limits;
- consideration of regional health indicators;
- flexibility for businesses to innovate to increase sales opportunities while ensuring staff and customer safety; and,
- alignment with Canada-wide best practices for re-opening.
Charla Robinson, President