February 2, 2021
Doug Ford Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building Queen’s Park Toronto
Regarding Adoption of a Regional Approach to Business Re-opening Plan
Dear Premier Ford:
On behalf of North Grenville, I want to thank you, members of cabinet, and our local MPP, Minister Steve Clark, for such leadership during these extraordinary times. I fully recognize and appreciate that governing during a pandemic is not for the faint of heart, and that hard choices need to be made.
I am proud to live and serve in a province and a country where public health is taken seriously, COVID contagion has been minimal in most rural areas in Ontario, and municipalities have been well supported. Your leadership, alongside Minister Clark’s, in supporting communities and working collaboratively with your federal counterparts is to be commended.
However, as North Grenville’s non-essential local businesses go into their sixth week of significant COVID restrictions, many of them are at a breaking point. As you know, non-essential retailers have had to revert to curbside pick-up, or delivery options only. Many service-based businesses such as stylists, spas, fitness studios, gyms, and related athletic facilities have been forced to close their doors entirely.
It is clear that these entrepreneurs and their families have paid an enormous price. The burden they bear is significant. I see the pain and worry on many of their faces, the uncertainty about the future. Many of these same businesses invested heavily in new infection control protocols just this past summer, which had the effect of reducing their revenues before the December 26th closure.
Since the spring of 2020, the Municipality has led a robust COVID adaptation strategy for local businesses, in addition to launching a sustained buy local campaign, #LoveNG. Of course, we are not alone. Campaigns, like #LoveNG, are active in many towns and cities, in an attempt to help protect the livelihoods of our entrepreneurs.
But in many cases, our efforts have not been enough. Too many of our small businesses are struggling more than they were during the initial lockdown of the pandemic. Further, the rates of COVID are not the same in every community and region.
In fact, we are fortunate in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark to have very low and stable COVID cases in recent months. Our Public Health Unit has done an excellent job with contact tracing. As Mayor of North Grenville, and a member of Council at the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, I am incredibly proud of the efforts of our health care and other frontline workers, as well as staff at long term care facilities and those of so many individual residents across the region.
Given this reality, on behalf of all local businesses in North Grenville, I am formally requesting that the Government of Ontario recognize that, where COVID numbers remain low, a province wide shutdown of local businesses is no longer warranted after February 10th , 2021. I understand that the province-wide restrictions are scheduled to end on Thursday, February 11th, and I am imploring you to adopt a regionally-responsive approach to re-opening local economies as you move forward.
Quite simply, ending the province wide shutdown next week is imperative for the health of our local economy, survival of so many businesses and well-being of our communities. A regional approach to local business re-openings would mirror the approach being taken with school re-openings. Premier, I know how much you care about the business community in Ontario, and how much of a toll this pandemic has taken on you and your team. I understand how committed your colleagues, including our own MPP and Minister Steve Clark, are to ensuring the province, and eastern Ontario, grows and thrives, even during pandemic times.
As Mayor of North Grenville, you have my full support in implementing a regionally responsive business re-opening strategy that upholds public health considerations but gets local business in communities like ours up and running at full speed.