CFIB President Lashes Out at Ontario Lockdown
It is incredibly disappointing that the Ontario government is once again choosing province-wide small business closures over pivoting to rapid testing and a targeted vaccine rollout for essential workers in hotspot communities to address the third wave of COVID-19, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
"Evidence suggests that large, congregate workplaces are the source of COVID-19 spread—not small shops, salons, restaurants or gyms. Yet the government continues to shut down small businesses, some of which are still facing North America's longest lockdowns," said CFIB President Dan Kelly. "Yes, we face different challenges than we did a year ago, but we also have new tools and more information. It's time for a new strategy that includes rapid testing, targeted vaccination for essential workers and capacity limits."
"Ontario appears to have finally figured out that shuttering small retailers and pushing customers to buy the same goods at big box stores is both unfair and a poor COVID-19 prevention strategy. However, this will not fully address the problem as the new policy of only allowing essential goods to be sold in person will simply push more volume to Amazon and other online giants despite growing reports it is these very large warehouses where COVID-19 is spreading," Kelly added.
Eight in 10 small business owners (81 percent) say that governments need to be more creative about allowing them to make sales while keeping people safe and 63 percent say they would consider using COVID-19 rapid testing in their workplace if it would help their business stay open.
"Here we go again. Nine hours' notice for a province-wide stay-at-home order. Less than half a day to talk to employees, call suppliers and get your curbside operation back up and running. To add insult to injury, no additional supports have been announced," said Ryan Mallough, director of provincial affairs for Ontario. "You'd think the third time around we'd have figured out what doesn't work, but here we are trying the same thing."
“Many employers are willing and ready to help facilitate vaccines for their workers and to use rapid testing if it means they can avoid another lockdown," added Kelly. "Small businesses are already stretched to a breaking point—shutting them down yet again, while we have better, more precise tools at our disposal, is nothing short of cruel."