A sign notifying customers of a closed terrace is shown at food court in Montreal, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Why the feds aren’t closing the door on non-essential businesses

Some say a national message might still be more helpful, even if it leaves room for exception

While Canada’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has taken off drastically in the last week, some have found it lopsided across the country.

In Ontario and Alberta, dine-in restaurants and bars are closed by provincial decree, while Quebec and B.C. have shut down bars and ordered restaurants to limit the number of customers.

Other provinces have made no such order.

Even in a single city like Ottawa, there’s variation between which businesses have stayed open and which have shuttered to the public.

Businesses need more federal direction to avoid confusion, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday.

“One of the things businesses are looking for is more coherence,” said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Right now in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and federal health minister provide advice to the provinces, but each province and territory is ultimately responsible for making its own decisions.

Beatty said the situation can be particularly vexing for companies that operate across jurisdictions.

“As rate of infection is growing, the same rules increasingly should apply across the board,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C.’s top doctor orders bars, some restaurants to close over COVID-19

For some, without specific advice from the federal government, it can be a difficult financial proposition to voluntarily shut their doors, he said.

Federal authorities say that have been co-ordinating with provincial counterparts, but that local context is important.

“We very much recognize … that there are specific conditions in specific cities, specific provinces,” said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“That’s why we have public health officers also at the provincial and the city level.”

The provinces’ decisions about whether to close non-essential businesses comes down to the reality on the ground, including the number of cases of COVID-19 in the region and whether the area is seeing community transmission.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said it may also come down to a particular health system’s ability to deal with an outbreak. A weaker health system may take a more cautious approach, for example, she said.

Beatty suggested a national message might still be more helpful, even if it leaves room for exceptions. At least then the information would be coming from one source, he explained.

He did complement the federal government though on its open lines of communication with the business community.

And to some extent, he said it will be up to businesses to do the right thing for their customers and employees.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach Farmers Market re-opens under strict guidelines

‘Shop, don’t stop. Buy what you need and give others space and be efficient’

COVID-19: Nanoose Bay man forges hearts for his community

Kasprick has already given out approximately 400, plans to make it 600

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

COVID-19: Latest from Parksville, Qualicum Beach, RDN

Province also launches new service for isolated seniors

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

COVID-19 PQB business update: looking for takeout food?

Email messages to editor@pqbnews.com

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

COVID-19: List of postponed/cancelled events in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Send your organization’s updates to editor@pqbnews.com

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Saanich mayor receives his foster bees through pollinator rental program

‘I feel like I’m an adoptive father,’ Fred Haynes says of his rented mason bee colony

Most Read