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

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

‘Erratic’ driver arrested on Highway 16 near Vanderhoof

A 23-year-old man from Calgary, Alberta, was arrested on July 6 and faces multiple charges.

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

RCMP confirm homicide investigation underway near Quesnel

Police releasing few details four days after homicide occurred Monday, July 6

Most Read