CFIB launches Stay Open petition as businesses concerned about more lockdowns this fall

by Stephen Dafoe

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says 81 per cent of Alberta business owners are concerned more lockdowns could affect their businesses this fall.

The business organization is calling on provincial governments across Canada to adopt stay-open strategies, so COVID-19 resurgences do not lead to more business closures, and in addition to the online petition, they have sent a letter to premiers across the country.

The letter tells premiers “small businesses made significant sacrifices to protect society from COVID-19” and have struggled since March of 2020 with lockdowns measures that  Since March “fully or partially
closed Main Street for months.”  The letter goes on to state that despite reopening, businesses are reopening to significant ongoing revenue drops, staffing shortages and a crunch in cash flow.

“Provinces have done a good job of putting reopening plans in place, but very few have stated their intention to stay open or released detailed plans on how they will do that,” said CFIB Executive Vice-President Laura Jones.

A recent survey of CFIB members in Alberta indicates 86 per cent are in favour of stay open measures to avoid lockdowns.

CFIB’s suggested plan looks for clear, evidence-based communications around risks and any decisions leading to additional restrictions, direct provincial funding in place prior to announcing additional restrictions, and the attention of government and the public on hospitalization rates rather than case counts. Additionally, the business lobby group is seeking more usage of rapid testing, when needed, and if needed proof of vaccination for travel and large events.

“The last 16 months have been incredibly hard on small business owners, not only financially, but emotionally as well. They can’t take more lockdowns,:” Jones said. “Provincial governments have the opportunity to reassure businesses that lockdowns are an extraordinary measure that will only be used now as a last resort by announcing a clear policy that keeping things open is a priority.”

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