Give Us More Detail, Ontario Business Groups Say of Restart Plan

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(Bloomberg) -- Business leaders say they want more detail on Ontario’s strategy for restarting the economy after Premier Doug Ford outlined a plan without a timeframe.

Companies need to know what conditions will be attached to reopening -- such as the rules for face shields and other personal protective equipment -- so they can prepare, said Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“Tell us now what kinds of things might be critical for us to have in a business to allow it to open so we have the time to get those things in order,” Kelly said Tuesday in a television interview with BNN Bloomberg.

On Monday, Ford outlined a gradual, phased approach to getting Canada’s largest provincial economy back to work. The plan has three stages but the details were vague and Ford committed to no hard dates or plans for specific industries.

In the first stage, some businesses would be allowed to re-open if they can “immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance.” The second stage would see more retailers allowed to open, as well as some offices.

But the province first needs more testing and contact tracing to ensure it can control outbreaks.

‘Heartbeat of Business’

“It’s good news we’re starting to talk about reopening,” Kelly said. “At the same time, it was quite tentative and small.”

Kelly said there needs to be more clarity around why big companies like Walmart and Costco can stay open while smaller stores remain shuttered.

“We’ve got to make sure we allow the smallest of businesses to have a little bit of heartbeat of business, to keep them going,” Kelly said.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a statement Tuesday with five recommendations for reopening the economy. The group said policy makers must take input from business of all sizes and sectors.

“As governments and public health officials increasingly consider the gradual relaxation of shutdown orders and set the conditions, they need to work closely with business,” the chamber’s chief economist, Trevin Stratton, said in a release.

The chamber recommends the government create a task force to provide timely advice. “As they implement public health measures, businesses will need time to procure personal protective equipment and change how they operate,” it said.

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