Why Business Owners Are Pissed at Ontario’s Failed Progressive Conservative Government

Last week Doug Ford drove around and blamed the 3rd wave of Ontario’s COVID outbreak on people visiting the patios he just declared re-opened. This past Easter weekend, that drive featured tumbleweeds on patios and full driveways at the homes of friends and family ignoring the latest Ontario lockdown.

Where Are Cases Coming From?

This 3rd lockdown, while contentious and necessary, has the Premier and his Progressive Conservative Party playing a dangerous game of political football with Ontario’s residents. The Ontario Government’s own publicly available COVID stats indicate new outbreaks are coming from Schools and “Other”, which can be read as Fulfillment Warehouses and Food Manufacturing Facilities. So why hinder Small Businesses again with a lockdown that hurts them far more than the places COVID is actually spreading?

Care setting outbreaks are reducing while Education and Workplace outbreaks are drastically increasing.

As these stats become easier to compare to other countries and provinces, anyone that votes in Ontario is likely starting to realize just how underwater the PC government is with the pandemic. They’ve ignored advice from Healthcare Professionals while anyone with an internet connection has seen how successful a real lockdown can be.

(in Melbourne, AUS) ‘Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews defended the “short, sharp circuit-breaker” lockdown, saying it had safeguarded against a potential local third wave.

“There was simply no alternative but to follow the advice provided,” he said. “I am very proud of every single Victorian for the work they’ve done, and the sacrifices they’ve made.”’

When asked in February about a 3rd wave outbreak, the PC Government’s Science Table co-chair said “the cases will likely rise”. So why remove the February lockdown at all when cases were rising?

Why Business Owners are Pissed

Since February, data has shown (see above graphic) the majority of cases in commercial environments are coming from big-box retailer warehouses and Amazon Fulfilment Centres. Yet, for Lockdown 3, small businesses are the ones expected to close again.

Hospitality Small Business owners and employees were given a ray of hope on March 19th when the Ford government announced that patios could re-open the following day. Even with just 24 hours to call back employees, place orders with suppliers and make sure they had all the necessary safety requirements in place — many were able to pull off this feat.

Other businesses refused to re-open for patio dining knowing that another lockdown would be right around the corner. Why scale up, spend money and put your employees on the front-line during an upswing in COVID cases?

Either way it was a difficult, impossible choice knowing that sooner than later they’d have to shut down again. Having to choose between re-opening or staying closed in this situation was only a losing situation for Business Owners and their Employees.

Two weeks later, Doug Ford said his ‘personal opinion from driving around’ was behind the decision to blame patios for the uptick in COVID cases. Insinuating that these businesses were the cause of recent outbreaks.

Either Doug doesn’t have access to the government’s own statistics and information (once again, view graphic above) or he’s willfully playing political games with Ontario’s Small Business Owners. The same blame-game his government has played with Teachers and Healthcare Workers over the last year.

Then, two weeks later, it was over — Premier Ford shut it all down again. Businesses are on the hook for purchased supplies — and have had to lay-off employees they hired within the same payroll period. All while American Eagle, GAP and Booster Juice remain open in Ontario’s malls.

What the Government Needs to Do To Stop the Third Wave and Save Lives + Ontario’s Economy

With hundreds of thousands of extra vaccine doses (as of April 5th, 2021) sitting in Ontario freezers, the government needs to use them.

Their vaccination strategy needs to prioritize:

  1. Warehouse + Manufacturing Plant Workers
  2. Teachers
  3. Essential Retail Workers
  4. Healthcare Professionals that still haven’t been vaccinated

The known source of outbreaks (those warehouses and fulfillment centres) are allowed to continue operating while Small Business owners go deeper and deeper into debt. Yet those Small Businesses contribute a minuscule number of cases to Ontario’s COVID spread — as indicated by the government’s own data.

The Ontario PC Party claims to be for the small guy, for the economy, for business — but their actions since March 2020 have proven otherwise. Had the government developed contact tracing and a real COVID strategy early on, even the 20–40k grants the government gave out wouldn’t have been necessary — simply because those businesses would be open today.

Re-Implement and Expand Paid Sick Days

Good governments take advice from healthcare professionals and then act based on expert advice. This government has attacked Frontline Workers, Small Business Owners, and Healthcare Professionals instead.

All while refusing to re-implement paid sick days, a measure that would save lives AND reduce the Ontario Government’s healthcare costs. On top of this, Paid Sick Days actually help Small Businesses maintain a healthy workforce.

If you’re a PC voter and Small Business owner, it may be time to examine your voting intentions for 2022. It’s become hard to understand what they actually stand for anymore. It doesn’t seem to be fiscal responsibility or the small guy.

One thing about the Ontario PC Party and Doug Ford’s pandemic performance is certain. Their actions have been reckless with you, your family, your friends, and the government’s finances. With good leadership we simply wouldn’t have had a 3rd COVID wave or lockdown.

All Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative’s needed to do to navigate this pandemic successfully was listen to anybody but themselves.

The Toronto-based Social Entrepreneur. CEO Go Tours Canada + Segway of Ontario. aaronbinder.com