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LETTER: Personal service workers want province to reconsider and let them open now

Workers, owners say they stepped up in Ontario's time of need, but now they need the government to step up for them in their time of need.
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To the editor:

Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario:

We are writing to you as a community of small business owners in the personal care sector of Thunder Bay, Ontario, who have been deeply affected by the lockdowns, financially and personally. We are looking to open a communication line together with you so that our voices can be heard.

We desperately need to reopen our businesses as safely as possible to continue to pay our bills, our employees, and ensure our businesses' survival. We are struggling to see why we are being excluded when there is zero evidence to support our closure and delay in our reopening.

The data collected, recorded, and published in any time period by publichealthontario.ca clearly indicates that personal service settings have indeed proven to be the safest sector and working environment for our community while following safe protocols and guidelines provided by the government.

We are requesting that you take a second look at our industry regarding the reopening plan of Ontario.

We feel deserted, and we do not want to resort to working in an underground economy. We do not want to work in defiance of the law, and we do not wish to steal tax dollars. We want to work together. We are also in need of financial support.

The Ontario OVID-19 Small Business Grant, if even applicable, is not enough.

We have, without waiver, supported the Government's framework in good faith. As promised, the government would roll out a compensation program so our sector would, in fact, survive the financial blow. This blow has manifested into true devastation of our entire industry with only enough compensation that has left us mentally and financially depleted. We have been abandoned. We are a sector that is saturated with incredible selfless humans.

When asked to make a sacrifice for the health of Canadians, we, without question, stepped up even though we struggle with finances on a good day.

Now we need more. We have now been closed for the last five months and will be closed for at least another two more months and remain without a clear message and definite reopening date. We still have bills to pay to support our families. The bills do not stop, they cannot be deferred, and they continue to accumulate.

We have lost staff; we have lost products due to expiration, and we are on the brink of losing our livelihoods. When we are finally able to reopen, we will need to hire and retrain staff, purchase new products, and promote our businesses.

This will require capital we do not have. We have exhausted our resources, and we have been provided with minimal or no support.

We want to work in partnership with our government to come to a compromise so that all our needs can be met, and our community can remain safe. We ask that you listen to our concerns. We would like an opportunity to meet with you and have an open discussion. Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response.

Concerned Small Business Owners of Thunder Bay

Personal Care Sector