The COVID-19 pandemic curve is starting to flatten and Canada needs a plan to restart the economy.
The shutdowns to protect public health showed the complexity of the supply chains that keep our economy going. The gradual re-starting of our economy is equally complex and will require lead-in time for businesses to prepare. This includes understanding what public health rules will be in place and what
businesses can expect.
Getting the re-opening right will ultimately lay the ground for a sustainable recovery. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has developed five key areas that need to be part of the country’s strategy to re-open the economy quickly and safely:
Providing Advice to Government
The crisis has shown the best policy is made when it widely draws upon the advice of civil society, including businesses both large and small across sectors. The conversations need to start now in a structured manner to ensure that governments at all levels are receiving the best possible advice to minimize
International Best Practices
Industrialized economies around the world are beginning the domestic processes to restart their economy. We should use this opportunity to learn from what is working and what is not working in other
Both in good times, and through the pandemic, we have seen the perils of misalignment between provinces and territories. Companies that operate across provincial and territorial boundaries need to have clarity and
consistency to minimize confusion and ensure as seamless a reboot as possible. Companies also need to have clarity on public health rules as well as access to PPEs to meet those public health guidelines.
Government Financial Assistance
Temporary financial support programs have been crucial to help some companies stay afloat through the pandemic. However, there is also a need to ensure sustainable public finances. What are the conditions that should guide how the already announced financial support programs are successfully concluded?
As a country dependent on the movement of goods and services to support the economy, it is crucial for Canada to stay plugged into the global economy. Border closures rolled out in response to COVID-19 have been justified to protect public health, but will be gradually rolled back.
Companies will need certainty and lead-in time to fully re-engage with the global economy as these measures are lifted.
We need to continue hearing from the business community
What issues will impact your company or sector as Canada begins to re-open?
What kind of public health guidance will you require from governments?
The high level of collaboration among governments, businesses and civil society managing this pandemic should give Canadians confidence about our collective ability to deal with the long-lasting changes it will bring.
Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill knew a thing or two about getting through a crisis. His advice certainly rings true when you are in business in the middle of a pandemic.
It’s been hell…
Let’s face it, a lot of small business owners are barely hanging on. Depending on the sector, business has either stopped dead, pivoted to another line of business, or adapted to meet safety standards for their
employees and the public. While there is a significant portion of the economy still operating, no one is
This week the Federal Government and the provinces unveiled pan-Canadian principles to restart the economy. Ontario also released a framework for re-opening the province. The emphasis is on safety, and rightly so. Getting the recovery wrong would likely mean plunging back into lockdown, so let’s be smart about it. While the Provinces are all talking about a phase-in approach, with benchmarks, Ontario’s plan is as follows:
Rather than establishing a timeline, the Ontario Government will wisely use a range of criteria, including:
Every business should be studying these guidelines, not only for which “Stage” they likely fit into, but for clues as to what they will need to do in order to fit the criteria. Think about how your business will “meet current public health guidelines”, or open with “significant mitigation plans” and “continued protections”.
Every business should be studying how the “essential services” are doing it. How can you mimic the grocery stores, the construction sites, the manufacturing facilities, the alternative methods of product or service delivery – everything from curbside pick-ups to Zoom meetings.
Ask yourself if your current physical space will be safe. How can you train staff in safe practices, and enforce them? Will you have to limit the number of people in your store? Can you deal with lineups? What if
someone tries on a pair of jeans?
Obviously, everyone wants to know “When?”, but until we can answer that question, “How?” is a great way to be spending your time.
The Retail Council of Canada provides lots of tips and tricks here: retailcouncil.org/coronavirus-info-for-retailers/covid-19-health-and-safety-resources/
You may belong to an industry association that has developed specific
guidelines. The Chamber is polling our members looking for guidance, tips and tricks.
We will continue to share information from you, and with you. Meanwhile, we continue to focus on our three key deliverables:
Influence – From the earliest days we have been lobbying all three levels of Government to provide meaningful and effective programs to help the business community through the pandemic. We have also
lobbied successfully for modifications. Here is a look at what we have asked for, and what has been
Profile – For businesses who have remained open, modified how they provide service, pivoted to a new line of business, or transitioned to an online offering, we have promoted everyone through our social media channels, emails, our newsletter, Zoom interviews and more. If we’ve missed you, please let us know, and be sure to tag us in your own social media posts. Our new Gift Card program, launched last week, has over 80 businesses listed already, and is generating revenue. Be sure to register your business, not-for-profit, farm products etc., and feel free to do some shopping to support your local business community at the same time: www.peterboroughchamber.ca/gift-cards.html
Knowledge – Our dedicated web page is updated daily. It includes a comprehensive list of links to every
Government relief program, information from local experts, FAQ’s, health and safety information and increasingly – information on recovery. Here is the link: peterboroughchamber.ca/covid-19-pandemic-preparedness.html
Peterborough City and County have proven again and again through the COVID-19 crisis that we are a community that cares about the people and the institutions, businesses, and not-for-profits that call this place home.
We know it hasn’t been an easy five weeks and it’s going to be a while before we return to anything that’s close to what normal was. But we heard this week from the province that the physical distancing
measures in place are working and we have to keep going. We know that the province has an
emergency order in place until May 12th and that if that’s going to signal the start of a phasing-back we have to keep going.
There is a lot of planning going on, with businesses finding new ways to interact with their clients and each other.
Here are a few tips we have picked up through various sources:
Stay in Contact
The amount of information on government programs is overwhelming but the Chamber is here to help and pass on your concerns to municipal, provincial, and federal governments. So keep those ideas flowing.
Since COVID-19 was deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11th some days have felt like years, and some days have felt like minutes, and left disaster in their wake.
All at once it is a health crisis, a people crisis, and an economic crisis. In the context of COVID-19 governments have been pushed to speeds unlike those that have been seen in recent times and what was normal, while desired and yearned for, has a
feeling of less significance than the focus on seeing this pandemic run out of steam.
In a matter of days and weeks, Canada’s governments at all levels have enacted measures that would normally take 18-24 months to be designed and actioned. It has required a massive mindset shift to a laser focus on what needs to be done and how to get it done.
People have been called upon to stay at home, change the way they live, and to rely on the virtual rather than the human for most communications. It’s brought about changes in how we work, what we work at and how to move forward. This pandemic has revealed the variations in our economic make-up and how one-size-fits-all plans, while perhaps more simple to administer, don’t often cast the net wide enough to capture all who need to be caught. There will be questions and discussions
about how this could change once our service to country is complete.
For the business community, this has been a time that has challenged and led to light speed changes both negative and positive. In this vein, there are businesses who have retooled their operations to help front line and essential workers do their jobs
effectively, but there have also been entrepreneurs whose life’s purpose and business have fallen away from them through no control of their own. There will be questions and discussions after about what it means to prepare for the unimaginable and what measures can help pivot and support more quickly.
Recovery can be viewed in many ways. For Peterborough City and County, I know we will recover. I know we will thrive even. I know this because the entire community continually demonstrates that all aspects of this community are important.
“We are in this together” started here, is lived here and will be the legacy of here.
The following definition of recovery from Merriam & Webster’s Dictionary struck a chord:
I see us, collectively, in each of those statements.
Over the coming weeks you are going to hear about a recovery plan from Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED). This plan offers short, medium, and long-term actions that can be undertaken to ensure that the business community is supported. The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is playing a role in the development of this plan and will play a role on the recovery team, as will other members of the #TeamPtbo taskforce. The plan must receive approval from City and County councils and be endorsed by the PKED Board of Directors to move forward. This is expected to happen in the coming weeks. It will be important work and it won’t be easy, but rest assured the team pushing the plan forward will be committed to
On April 9th, 2020, the Ontario government launched a new Ontario Jobs and Recovery
Committee which will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
The mandate of the committee is to develop a plan to stimulate economic growth and job creation in the weeks and months ahead. The Committee will be consulting with a wide variety of people to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop an action plan to move forward, including business associations,
chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, corporate leaders, small business
owners, and entrepreneurs.
As such, for both of these plans moving forward it means an understanding of
the needs of our businesses, from solo to small to medium and to large is required. The plans must apply to those with unique circumstances, those with or without employees, those that have ideas for improving on the foundation of what was once normal.
As was the case with the collapse, recovery will be individual, will require a different mindset, and may even solidify a new path forward that has opened up during this pandemic. And yes, it may very well be just as traumatic as the slowing of the economy on our businesses as those same businesses try and re-start the engine.
Around the world and around the country we are starting to see different ways to recover. Quebec has re-opened a few industry sectors, Saskatchewan is looking to
do the same, and in Asia and Europe the roots of recovery are slowly starting to form. There will be set backs, undoubtedly there often always are, but our community, our business community will persist and support.
There is no solid time frame for coming out the other side and that’s frustrating and really hard, but we can think, we can plan, and we can be ready.
Grady's Feet Essentials
“Kelli and Tony went completely out of their way to help me out today. I work a mostly desk job at the hospital and Covid19 will have me thrown into a new role my footwear wasn’t prepared for, my dress shoes aren’t going to cut it and my runners are worn out. I have issues with my feet and ordering online has not worked for me in the past. With pretty much everything closed or closing I asked for assistance online and Kelli answered my call with a great suggestion and plan to get me shoes while keeping both of us safe. I have so much gratitude and respect for the Grady’s
helping me out in these difficult and different times!” – Sabrina
Many thanks to Sabrina for the wonderful recommendation. It is our pleasure to help front line workers and anyone else requiring comfortable footwear, insoles or accessories while our Lansdowne Place Mall location is closed due to COVID-19.
We provide Free home delivery to the Peterborough area. Please reach out to us at email@example.com for assistance or gradys.ca
- Kelli & Tony Grady
We have been honoured and humbled by the response from local businesses and members of our community who have rallied alongside us to help raise funds to support PRHC's COVID-19 response efforts. We have loved seeing the creativity and
thoughtfulness behind each fundraiser! We could not be more grateful for our community's generosity during these challenging times.
If you are planning a fundraiser or business promotion in support of PRHC Foundation, please let us know – It’s easy:
Thank you for standing behind PRHC's frontline healthcare professionals. Together, we will get through this.
Harco Enterprises & Merit Precision
A collaboration between Peterborough companies being led by Harco Enterprises Limited with support from Merit Precision is working to build Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Harco Enterprises is using its skills to retool and make plastic and rubber components that can hold and attach face shields, worn by medical professionals and first responders. Many other local manufacturers such as AVIT Manufacturing are also offering up their expertise to help.
We knew we were saving 30 years of scrap material for something important! Time to give back to our amazing community #peterboroughontario
Within the past two days we have made 70+ masks to donate to Peterborough Regional Health Center and Fairhaven LTC.
Fighting #covid19 together!
Chemong Family Dental
Dropped off our PPE donation to @prhc1 ! Between our offices we were able to donate 6000 gloves, 500 masks, 86 gowns, hand sanitizer and face shields.
We encourage you to donate certified PPE if you can, or if you can sew, they’re also looking for mask donations in order to preserve certified PPE for health care providers and support staff.
To our healthcare heroes, we thank you for your courageous work
La Mesita Restaurante
UPDATE: As of April 4, 2020. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to make the surgical caps. Our friend is overwhelmed by your response! She is only asking for surgical caps, not the masks as they cannot use them. Any items made can be dropped off at our restaurant. We will deliver them to her and she will take care of
making them safe for use and then distribute them at PRHC. We knew we had amazing customers who would jump at the opportunity to help! You have proven it!!
Comfort Keepers Peterborough
Corey, 2 of our team members and I have delivered approx 30+ orders of groceries in 2 weeks! Well done team and here’s hoping we can stay healthy to continue supporting our seniors.
Thank you to each household for staying home and keeping everyone safe.
Thank you to Sobeys for maintaining the cleanliness of your store, your staff smiling and happy, and the other customers for keeping their distance!
Thank you to Fully Promoted Canada (Peterborough) for the donation of reusable bags!
Find all your business resources here:
There are a number of programs being built and implemented with lightning speed in order to help residents and business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks to our member Cody & James CPAs for pulling together a chart that breaks down each program. This resource is posted on our website:
This will be a high-level overview of the programs and we encourage you to check out the above website as all programs for the federal, provincial, and municipal governments can be found through the COVID-19 Business Resource Portal.
Expense Reduction Items:
Replacement Income Items:
Tax-Free Benefit Items:
A resource created by Chamber member Matthew Savino and his team at Savino Human Resources Partners is also extremely helpful.
The flowchart is designed to help people navigate Employment Insurance and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Business Information Line
Business Continuity Survey
Leaders from PKED, DBIA, Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Peterborough and Innovation Cluster (TeamPTBO) are working together to identify how the impact of COVID-19 will be hardest felt by our local business community.
Our staff at the Chamber, all working from home, are focussed on two things: providing answers and lobbying all levels of government for meaningful support for both employers and employees.
The biggest announcement this week, so far, was the Ontario Government’s closure of all non-essential businesses. Here is the link to the list of what is essential vs non-essential. This is a list of 74 categories of business that could remain open at this time.
One sentence from the government website we know is causing some confusion is: “This does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery.”
Here is what we heard from MPP Dave Smith's office:
"If your business is not listed as an essential business and you have a bricks and mortar location, that location must be closed by 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. If your business is able to operate online, by telephone, or by mail/delivery you may continue to operate."
Our dedicated website is being updated daily and is considered the go-to source for quality, filtered information. If you need information about any announcement from any level of government; links to the proper government agencies; or available support locally, provincially and federally, you’ll find it here:
One of the big areas of confusion is around employment. Also on our website you will find links to:
And here are two existing Employment Insurance programs that may also prove to be useful:
We continue to meet by conference call almost daily with all three levels of government. We are listening to you and learning what works and what doesn’t. For example, the announced 10% wage subsidy compares to as much as 80% in other Countries. The question from business is: Is it better to lay people off and swamp the employment insurance system, or to provide a wage subsidy that allows employers to keep people employed? This is a key policy position of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and we anticipate some movement on this issue.
This lobbying/advocacy work is the core work of the Chamber in good times, let alone now. Thus it is important that our membership remain strong.
Not only do we appreciate the support of our existing members, but to the businesses that have reached out and joined our Chamber in the past week, thank you. As the situation evolves we are confident that we can continue to provide “Influence, Profile, Knowledge” to our members.
Information is key
A consortium of local organizations involved in economic development have already provided our elected leaders with an important temperature check about what is really happening in the business community. A second survey has just been released today, and will also provide important information for all three levels of government as they design a strategy to support the business community.
Indeed, this is an unprecedented situation. The Covid-19 Virus has been more than well documented, and the story is not finished.
But perhaps we should look at a few other unprecedented things that are going on. Acknowledging first the fact that there are indeed precedents. Viral outbreaks in many forms have fundamentally changed society in the past.
Multiple examples of unimaginable sacrifice can also, and should also, be brought to mind. The Greatest Generation is a term used to describe those who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II, and those whose labour helped win it, as one example.
But most people are experiencing this level of upheaval for the first time. One of the most difficult aspects of this current situation is how it has gotten worse every day, and if you look back to all of the post-SARS inquiries and reports, perhaps not all of the
lessons were truly learned. But here we are.
There are many things that we should acknowledge:
The unprecedented measures announced by the Federal Government will not solve everything, but they will go a long way to mitigating the impacts, the full extent of which are not yet clear.
Lastly, I have seen some deeply disturbing comments about people, businesses, elected
leaders, public officials, and more about how they are handling this outbreak. Public shaming for any and all reasons is all too common. While it might be wise to simply dismiss the people making these comments as common trolls, it’s also important to make it unacceptable. Everyone is doing their best, and not everyone is shutting down, nor should they.
The Premier did a great job of \listing the sectors that would be closing and those that wouldn’t. It’s important for everyone to realize that an economy is based on jobs. Not every country has gotten it right. Not every elected leader has said the right things. But the focus should be on getting through this. Together. Be nice.
This week at the Future Ready: Business Summit 2020, hosted by the Peterborough Chamber and Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, there was a session called “What Happens If…”. While this session focussed on business partnerships, succession planning and managing stress, it could have easily included
the need for business to be prepared for emergencies, such as a COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, there was discussion amongst the event team on a health protocol. The protocol was developed and then communicated to attendees, along with signage at the event. That protocol is now on our website and all event pages as the safety and well-being of our members and community are of the utmost importance.
Some of the suggestions in the protocol include:
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has pulled together a five-page guide for businesses that will help them ask the questions that will ensure they are prepared. The guide is designed to assist business planning and continuity efforts. It includes links to some of the most relevant and credible information, best practice tools and resources.
The guide begins with the following overview:
"In addition to the work of the health care industry when a pandemic hits, businesses play a critical role in protecting the health and safety of employees, and limiting the negative impact on the economy and communities. They also need to have business continuity plans that will minimize the impact on the business itself and facilitate a speedy resumption of activities if the business has been forced to scale back or close during the pandemic. Preparedness, not panic, is the best way to mitigate the risks posed by a COVID-19 pandemic to the Canadian economy and our citizens.
Should COVID-19 escalate in Canada, some of the things businesses need to plan for include:
The guide breaks planning down into five sections:
Each of the first three sections has a series of questions that a business or organization should be asking themselves, such as:
The final two sections offer links to resources such as:
Locally, Peterborough Public Health also has extensive information and frequently asked questions on their website: peterboroughpublichealth.ca
A link to the Canadian Chamber guide for business can be found on our website:
The saying goes that if you don’t have a destination, any road will take you there. For Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED), their new strategic plan, launched this week, provides the road map to their newly minted destination; “To be the most sustainable and innovative community and economy in Ontario”.
Called Future Ready, the plan captures four objectives:
Much will depend on our ability to adapt to these many forces, but we have proven that we can adapt to change. No longer do we have 6,000 lunch pail workers at GE, or 1,500 driving down Highway 115 to GM. And yet, manufacturing is still one of our strongest pillars of the local economy, along with agriculture and tourism. Increasingly important are the cleantech, aerospace, the water and wastewater sector, the trades and technology centre at Fleming, a burgeoning entrepreneurial community and more. We call it TeamPtbo, and collaboration between all of these elements will be critical in helping PKED deliver on its strategy.
The Future Ready plan also has the United Nations report “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” in mind, particularly:
If you want to dig deeper into the plan, you’ll find 18 specific “Actions” to support the four main objectives. These include everything from creating a crisp, clear value proposition for the region; delivering a multi-year, multi-media marketing strategy and an earned media strategy; to developing customized strategies for growth in each targeted sector; championing investments in regional infrastructure; building on business attraction and retention programs; increasing connection between business leaders and college and
university students, to make staying in Peterborough an attractive option; to supporting our strong entrepreneurial culture, including working with under-represented groups such as First Nations, new Canadians, women and youth.
From the Chamber perspective, we have enjoyed a close working relationship with PKED, including the Future Ready Business Summit that we are partnering on next week (March 11). We look forward to continuing that partnership to help strengthen the business community in Peterborough.