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The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce is calling on the province to ensure businesses have advance warning and a concrete plan in place when they are given the green light to re-open.

Chamber president Rakesh Naidu sent a letter to the province, urging the government to ensure a predictable and coordinated effort to re-opening the economy in a harmonized fashion.

“We must also begin looking over the horizon to ensure businesses are prepared for the province’s reopening and recovery,” Naidu says. “It is never too early to start planning how our province and economy can emerge stronger while doing everything necessary to avoid further lockdowns.”

Here are some of the requests the Chamber of Commerce is making to the province:

  • 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.
  • Continued supports for those who need it most. Finally, continued timely and accessible supports for business will prevent further layoffs, closures, and bankruptcies.
  • Leveraging private sector to support vaccine distribution and deployment. Businesses will be critical in supporting public awareness, logistical capabilities, and best practices.

Naidu tells CTV Windsor safety is top-of-mind, but getting non-essential businesses open again is necessary.

“Let’s have a very harmonized reopening and let’s not waste an opportunity, so that the businesses, as soon as it is safely possible to open, they have the ability and they have the information to open,” Naidu says.

He says the government is looking at infection data and is expecting a decision next week.

“Based on the trends and based on how we’re doing, I would expect that we would get to maybe a red zone sometime next week. I think that would be a good step forward,” Naidu says.

“It still is going to be challenging for businesses, but at least it gives the business an opportunity to open up in a limited manner.”