Interview with Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce President Charla Robinson

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Thunder Bay – Charla Robinson says that what businesses need is some facts and the ability to plan as Ontario enters what could be the home-stretch for the provincial lockdown.

Charla Robinson, the Chamber President in an interview with NetNewsLedger shared the views of Chamber members on a number of issues, including the city budget, the pandemic, and how businesses can survive the global pandemic.

The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have written to Ontario Premier Doug Ford so that when the time comes, businesses of all sizes have a predictable and coordinated effort to ensure society reopens in a cohesive fashion that prioritizes individual safety as well as economic stability.

“In the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, it is difficult to think beyond confronting the immediate demands of COVID-19,” says Charla Robinson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.  “However, even as we continue supporting each other today, we must also begin looking ahead to ensure businesses are prepared for the province’s reopening and recovery. It is never too early to start planning how our province and economy can emerge stronger while doing everything necessary to avoid further lockdowns.”

The joint letter to Premier Ford outlines 9 essential elements including:

  • A readiness plan with a focus on sectors and regions hardest hit. It is critical that Ontario’s employers are aware of how reopening will take place step-by-step so they can properly prepare.
  • Clear guidelines. Businesses need to clearly understand the rules and how they will be enforced. Inconsistent and unclear public health guidelines cause confusion among businesses, employees, and consumers alike, and make it difficult for individuals to take appropriate action to protect themselves and their communities.
  • Workforce management systems. Employers in Ontario should adopt a scalable digital software tool for routine self-screening and assessment by employees, as part of a comprehensive workforce management system.
  • Evidence-based decision making. A strong testing and tracing apparatus ensures the province can accurately assess where and how the virus is spreading, so that efforts to target restrictions can be confidently based on solid data.
  • Continued supports for those who need it most. Finally, continued timely and accessible supports for business will prevent further layoffs, closures, and bankruptcies. 

As the government explores options to safely re-open the economy, it is worth noting that businesses already adhere to a number of existing health and safety protocols and will do their part to support a safe re-opening. The business community will continue to prove their commitment to safety protocols to protect their worker and customers to keep their doors open.