With the stay-at-home order in Ontario ending on June 2nd, Premier Doug Ford has revealed little in terms of concrete plans for reopening. Ontario Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner is slamming the Premier for his lack of clarity in addressing re-opening plans.
Ford’s reopening plan
In an interview with 570 NEWS, Schreiner expressed relief over the Premier’s decision. “This is something I have been repeatedly calling for. I was happy to see that we will be reopening some safe outdoor activities because the science table says it is safe.”
The Ontario government has also announced that it will be scrapping the colour-coded framework that it used in the Fall to distinguish between different areas of risk in the province. In place of this system, Ontario will follow a three-tier plan that will likely begin the week of June 14th.
The current stay-at-home order will end on June 2nd, but all non-essential businesses will remain closed until Ontario enters step one. In step one, outdoor activities will be permitted but with major restrictions. Non-essential retail stores will also be able to open at 15 percent capacity.
Schreiner also highlighted that Premier Ford’s reopening plan is based solely on vaccination rates.
“I am a little concerned that it doesn’t seem like the metrics include case counts, hospitalizations and ICU numbers – which I think are important metrics to hit, in addition to vaccine numbers, as we think about a safe way to reopening our economy and hopefully having a good, safe summer for everyone.”
Lack of support for businesses and families
A major element missing from Ford’s announcement was support for families and businesses for a post-pandemic recovery.
Schreiner has urged the government to expand the Ontario Business Support Grant. He expressed to 570 NEWS, “We have so many small businesses that are just barely hanging on and struggling to survive….Many of them are still weeks away from being able to reopen. They need some financial support.”
Applications for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant (OSBSG) closed in April. The grant provided $10 000 to $20 000 in funding to eligible small businesses to help cover decreased revenue caused by the provincial lockdown. In order to be eligible, businesses had to demonstrate that they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20 percent.
Ontario’s Main Street Relief Grant, which supports small businesses with the unexpected cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), also closed its applications in March.
The Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant is open for eligible business until June 26th, but businesses who received the OSBSG are not eligible for funding.
Schreiner noted in a press release on May 19th that a safe reopening requires a lot of planning for businesses and the government. “[A]ny reopening must be accompanied with increased capacity for testing, contact tracing, supported isolation and quarantine, and outbreak management, as public health experts have been calling for
.,” Schreiner said. “Ford needs to make sure our workplaces and schools are safe by investing in the necessary measures like proper ventilation and adequate PPE.”
The Green Party of Ontario continues to demand clearer guidelines on Ford’s reopening plan. In addition to helping small businesses, Schreiner has asked for more clarity on school re-openings, and an immediate plan for Ontarians to receive their second doses.