Rapid testing is one of several tools that will help us beat COVID-19. While several countries are bracing for a devastating fourth wave, Ontario appears positioned to continue its positive momentum in reopening as vaccination rates rise and cases drop.
To help keep our workplaces as safe as possible and hopefully avoid local outbreaks, the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Kawartha Chamber of Commerce and Tourism have partnered with MPP Dave Smith to provide rapid test kits to businesses in the City and County of Peterborough.
The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative was launched by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Government of Ontario, and Government of Canada as an additional tool to help keep workplaces safe.
The program is for people who feel healthy, but are part of a busy and active workplace. The latest
information from Health Canada suggests that up to one third of people carrying the virus are asymptomatic, with over 50% of known cases transmitted by an asymptomatic carrier. This makes it incredibly important to find asymptomatic carriers in order to combat the spread and get to a more normalized community life.
“The rapid testing kit
program is a very effective way for businesses to further protect their staff and
customers, and stop any further spread in the parking lot. We are grateful that MPP Dave Smith was able to help us with the logistics," says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO of the Greater
Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.
The test can be done at work and results typically take less than 10 minutes. This program is free for all
Peterborough City and County business with less than 150 employees. Larger employers can access rapid testing kits directly from the provincial and federal
The rapid tests aren’t a replacement for the standard PCR COVID-19 tests
Peterborough Public Health, but rather are used to quickly identify potential
asymptomatic carriers for further testing. Anyone who tests positive or inconclusive through the rapid tests will be referred to Peterborough Public Health for a PCR test.
We have a simple six step registration system at PeterboroughChamber.ca that includes designating someone to supervise the screening (they do not need any prior medical or clinical experience), watch a 6-minute training video, fill out some basic business information, and order kits. Business can order a two-week supply of kits based on the number of employees. Pickup is coordinated with MPP Dave Smith’s office with a location next to his constituency office.
The whole rapid testing process has minimal impacts for daily operation of a business, costs only a bit of time, and can help avoid outbreaks that impact the health of people in our community, create costly business shutdowns, and risk further outbreaks and health restrictions in our region.
If your workplace involves people working in close proximity, consider signing up for the rapid testing initiative and use one more tool to keep our community safe, healthy, and open for business. Get the details at PeterboroughChamber.ca
Pressure is mounting on the Ontario government to lay out its plan for working with the federal government on childcare funding.
Back in April, the federal government unveiled its 2021 budget, which includes $30 billion toward cutting
childcare costs in half in the next 18 months and down to $10 per day per child within five years — all in
partnership with provincial and territorial governments.
Two weeks ago, British Columbia signed the first childcare funding agreement with the federal government. B.C. will work with the federal government to cut fees in half by the end of 2022 and reach an average of $10-per-day childcare in regulated spaces for children under six before 2027, creating 30,000 new spaces over the next five years.
Since then, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have signed similar agreements.
Parents, educators, and employers are anxiously waiting to hear what Ontario plans to do. Ontario has
potentially the most to gain from a strong partnership with the federal government, with many Ontario cities ranking at the top for most expensive places in Canada for childcare.
It’s not just needed from a social perspective — it’s a key business issue. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is on the record with multiple resolutions advocating for more accessible childcare services.
It’s no secret that our business community is facing critical workforce shortages
in some sectors. It’s a complicated issue with a multitude of factors including workplace safety,
opportunities to retrain, wages, and government supports.
Though we’ve made progress in the form of modernizing traditional gendered parental roles with men taking on a larger share of child rearing, COVID-19 created a
situation where many families had to pick one parent to work and the other to stay home with the kids as schools and daycares closed. Some households found ways to try and manage both parents’ careers while taking care of and teaching their child, whether it meant burning the candle at both ends or getting grandparents involved. But the numbers show that women have taken on the largest share of the childcare burden.
Back in March, RBC published a report that nearly 100,000 women had left the
workforce altogether. That was before we hit our next round of lockdowns and school closures as we rode the third wave.
Even the childcare centres themselves are struggling to maintain the staffing levels they require. They’ve gone through the ups and downs of closing, reopening and restricted capacity, creating a high level of anxiety and
uncertainty for workers. Much of their workforce is comprised of women who are trying to balance their own childcare needs.
Workers debating whether it’s worth going back to lower paying jobs will have more financial incentive if a large part of their pay isn’t going straight to childcare,
providing a boost both for families and for businesses struggling to hire a new workforce.
Childcare costs and
availability were a big issue before this pandemic. Now, it’s a critical part of our economic recovery. While workforce issues aren’t going away overnight, making it accessible and affordable to pay for childcare will go a long way.
We live our lives online now more than ever. It’s where we socialize, it’s where we work, and it’s where our kids have been going to school.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated our use of digital technology. This increased use of online
connections has also opened the door to cybersecurity issues. Statistics Canada’s Canadian Survey on Business Conditions shows 1 in 5
Canadian organizations experienced cybersecurity incidents in 2020. Additionally, 1 in 4 organizations reported that adopting technologies was “somewhat” or
“extremely” challenging. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer shows Canadians are more worried about cyber attacks than COVID-19.
The Government of Ontario
recently released their Building a Digital Ontario strategy and a white paper titled Modernizing Privacy in Ontario: Empowering
Ontarians and Enabling the Digital Economy. The goal is to create a framework for digital progress that
prioritizes privacy and security.
Meanwhile, the Government of Canada is working on Bill C-11: Digital Charter
Implementation Act, a move aimed to address privacy and data collection issues by
putting Canadians in charge of their data.
Digital expansion and
adaptation have big
implications for business growth. It’s key for
streamlining processes and reaching markets. Similarly, our governments are moving towards digital, allowing them to be more accessible and efficient. But addressing
security concerns is critical to
maintaining consumer and business confidence.
Neglecting cybersecurity will cause us to lag behind at a crucial time as the world moves forward at an ever increasing pace.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has highlighted key issues regarding
• Canada has a strong
cybersecurity foundation in place, with some of the top global cybersecurity
companies being Canadian.
• Investment in cybersecurity is essential to boosting the productivity and efficiency of the Canadian economy.
Despite our strong
cybersecurity foundation, Canada is now at risk of being left behind. Canada’s federal investments in cybersecurity are orders of magnitude smaller than the investments being made by our global competitors.
• Digital expansion has been accelerated by COVID; there is a significant opportunity right now to seize the
moment and solidify Canada’s position as a global cybersecurity leader. This moment might never come again.
• Cybersecurity has tremendous potential to create high-skilled, well-paying jobs, increase exports, and contribute to Canada’s economic recovery.
• Cybersecurity best-practices and awareness are crucial elements in keeping your business and your customer information safe from bad actors. Canadian cybersecurity companies are among the best in the world to provide the protection and training you need.
• The 2021 budget provided funding for SMEs to invest in digital tech. This is a clear message that cybersecurity investments should go hand-in-hand with
investment in IT modernization and other digital technologies.
• Increased investment in
cybersecurity stands to benefit communities across Canada from both job creation and from improved made-in-Canada
cybersecurity accessibility and protection.
• Keeping our data secure and protected matters to every single one of us.
Our province is part-way through its re-opening process, entering Step 2 a couple days early. People are once again getting haircuts, shopping in the mall, and gathering socially indoors.
It’s a move toward business as usual, but we still have a long way to go.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the changes:
• Outdoor gatherings
increase from 10 to 25 people
• Indoor social gatherings and public events for up to 5 people
• Outdoor dining increases from 4 to 6 people per table
• Essential retail is open to 50% capacity, non-essential to 25%
• Shopping malls have re-opened
• Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies,
including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres
• Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times at 25% capacity
• Outdoor fitness classes are capped at the number of people who can maintain 3 metres of distance
• Outdoor meeting and event spaces at 25% capacity
• Outdoor amusement and water parks at 25% capacity
• Outdoor sports games, leagues and events at 25% capacity
• Outdoor cinemas,
performing arts, live music events and attractions at 25% capacity
• Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways at 25% capacity
For the full Step 2 details, visit Ontario.ca
According to the Roadmap to Reopen, we now wait another 3 weeks to move to Step 3. With the move to Step 2 bumped two days ahead of schedule, there is speculation about the move to the final step. Ontario has already achieved the vaccination targets required for Step 3.
Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, released a statement regarding the reopening steps:
“Many businesses – particularly small business and those in industries hit
hardest by the crisis – continue to struggle to survive as they operate under extremely strict regulations. As the indispensable partner of business, we have continued to call for evidence-based metrics for reopening Ontario’s economy as we work together towards a steady, robust, and inclusive recovery.”
“The facts are clear about Ontario’s reopening plan: we have achieved benchmarks for Step Three, yet we are taking a modest earlier move into Step 2. With nearly one-third of Ontarians fully vaccinated and our positivity rate dropping to the lowest since early Fall, we urge government to closely monitor the indicators for reopening so we can confidently move to the next stage of a safe reopening of our economy sooner than anticipated. Continued supports, such as an additional round of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, will be critical to help keep businesses afloat.”
We urge everyone who is eligible and able to please get vaccinated. Do it for yourself, your loved ones, and for your favourite local businesses whose ability to operate depends heavily on our collective ability to beat this virus.