A Message from MCC President & CEO Chuck Davidson
On Thursday, June 10, the Province of Manitoba announced its hotly-anticipated reopening plan, and although the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce believes it is a step in the right direction, we were looking for a deeper level of details and specific commitments.
On behalf of our members and the broader business community, we encourage the province to deliver more information in advance of the July 1 milestone to provide businesses with greater certainty, and the sense of hope and optimism that we’re all seeking. With businesses not expected to open until that first milestone, there is a desperate need for fiscal relief through either another Bridge Grant installment or sector-specific relief.
The Manitoba 4-3-2-One Great Summer Reopening Path raises a number of other questions, specifically:
- The holiday milestones speak to business re-openings at certain percentages (with some sectors still restricted), but without any details as to what that means. The 25%, 50%, and 100% capacity rates tied to the three holiday milestones are nebulous and reference “restrictions for some sectors.” Which sectors are those and based on what considerations? In order to be prepared for re-opening and/or able to ramp up effectively, restaurants, retailers, and personal service providers need to order product and bring back or onboard staff, which requires training, money to pay wages, and the need to re-calculate capacity limits and adjust spacing within their facilities. They must be prepared to welcome clients safely and according to public health orders again. Specifics are crucial.
- What if we achieve the vaccination rates proposed within, but the rest of our COVID-19 indicators are troublesome? Where does test positivity rate fit into this scheme, and what about hospitalization rates? What if we’ve hit the vaccination mark, but our ICUs are still overwhelmed and we’re continuing to transfer sick Manitobans who need intensive care to hospitals in other jurisdictions? Can this re-opening plan be repealed? According to a media question asked during the presser, it can indeed be adjusted according to where we’re at.
- Finally, we’re waiting for the second key element to this week’s announcements – that with ongoing business closures and tight operating restrictions confirmed until at least June 26 – that the Province of Manitoba has another round of relief funds coming. Many of Manitoba’s small business owners are hanging on by a thread, so we’re asking for a 5th installment of the Manitoba Bridge Grant at the very least, and we will continue to push for new sector-specific relief funds for our hardest-hit. Salons and personal services providers, movie theatres, gyms, bus operators – these sectors are falling through the cracks, and it’s hard to imagine that some of them can wait any longer.
The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce appreciates the long-overdue re-opening plan. Unless we’re all provided with additional details in advance of the milestones we’re concerned that it doesn’t address the business community’s main need: certainty.