‘We need hope’: Business groups want more optimistic COVID-19 messaging from Ottawa

By cormac mac sweeney, news staff

With the peak of the third wave of the pandemic in the rearview and COVID-19 vaccines pouring in, several different business groups representing 61 industries across the country say it is time for a change in tone from the federal government.

“The message they’ve given up until now is stay at home or you’ll die,” Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said. “What we need now is hope.”

Beatty says the government should be focusing on messages of optimism. He believes the shift will boost consumer confidence and help the economic recovery.

Dr. Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa, says the feds are slowly changing their tone, but claims they could be doing a better job at rallying Canadians to get them through the home stretch of the pandemic.

“We’ve asked people to sacrifice, but we haven’t really given them the reward,” Deonandan said. “So, carrot and stick. It’s been a lot of stick.”

While progress is being made nationwide, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last Tuesday that public health measures are not poised to be eased until COVID-19 case counts are down and at least 75 per cent of the country has one shot.

Speaking in Ottawa, Trudeau said Canada can have a “one dose summer” that will, in turn, set us up for “a two-dose fall.”

Once that happens, he admitted then “we’ll be able to talk about going back to school, back to work, and back to more normality.”

In addition to a shift in messaging, business groups are pushing for a detailed reopening plan from the federal government.


Meanwhile, Restaurants Canada tells 680NEWS that it has not been consulted on Ontario’s reopening plan.

“We haven’t received any sort of a response from our May 10 letter asking for a plan to reopen patios nor have we been consulted regarding the sectoral reopening plan that they are apparently announcing tomorrow. We are frustrated that they continue to make these plans in secret with no input from businesses or employees impacted by their plans,” it said.

Ontario’s Solicitor General dropped some clues Wednesday as to what the province could expect once it reopens, suggesting a regional approach could be avoided altogether.

While the Ford government continues to make headway on a reopening plan, Sylvia Jones hinted sectors could simply open up provincewide in an effort to limit people from “region hopping” and travelling to a jurisdiction with less stringent restrictions.

In past versions of Ontario’s colour-coded framework, the government witnessed firsthand what could happen if public health units are marked with different health restrictions.

The province reported 1,588 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 19 more deaths linked to the virus, marking the second straight day new infections have fallen below 2,000.

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