Business group urging Mississauga to press province to allow it to move to stage 2

 

A group that represents Mississauga businesses is urging city council to press the province to allow the city to enter stage 2 of Ontario's reopening plan, arguing that the city has its coronavirus situation under control. 

In a recent news release, the Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT) expressed disappointment in the Ontario government's decision to prohibit Mississauga from advancing to the second phase of the province's three-stage plan. 

On June 15, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that Toronto, the Region of Peel and Windsor-Essex will not yet be permitted to enter stage 2 due to higher-than-ideal cases of COVID-19. A number of other cities and regions, such as Halton, Hamilton, Durham, York and Niagara, are all permitted to enter stage 2 on Friday, June 19. 

At this juncture, the earliest Mississauga can move into stage 2 is June 26—although Crombie has hinted that an earlier opening is possible. 

Residents who live in cities and regions that have reached stage 2 can enjoy restaurant patios, hair and nail salons, shopping malls, guided tours, public splash pads and swimming pools, some outdoor sports and drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and art installations. 

There are no travel bans prohibiting people in stage 1 regions from visiting towns and cities that have reached stage 2. 

Although Mississauga only recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19 on June 19, fellow Peel municipality Brampton recorded close to 30 and therefore remains something of a GTA "hotspot" for the virus.

Because Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon all belong to the same public health unit, Mississauga and the rural town of Caledon cannot progress until Peel's daily case count drops. 

"The Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT) is extremely disappointed in this decision and feels that businesses are ready and should be opened in this region on June 19, 2020, along with neighbouring regions," MBOT said in a news release. 

MBOT is arguing that the province's regional reopening approach unfairly captures Mississauga and should be reexamined.

"Mississauga businesses are in a very unfair situation because they are included in the Region of Peel model. The City of Mississauga has comparable numbers to other parts of the province that are opening. We, the City of Mississauga should be treated that way," said David Wojcik, President and CEO, MBOT, in a statement.

MBOT is calling on Mayor Bonnie Crombie and council to request that the city be exempted from the regional model so businesses can re-open on June 19.

On June 15, Crombie said she supports the province's decision to keep Peel in stage 1 a little longer. 

"Today, the province announced that Peel Region will remain in Stage 1 along with Toronto and Windsor-Essex. This is the right decision," Crombie said in a statement. 

"Given the progress Mississauga has made over the past few weeks, I remained hopeful that we would be in a position to enter Phase 2. Unfortunately, case counts and incidence rates across the entire region remain the second-highest in the province, though they have certainly started to decline. It is clear we still have more work to do in terms of a sustained decline across the entire Region of Peel to proceed into Phase 2. The virus does not follow geographic borders." 

Crombie thanked the province for adopting a regional reopening approach, something she began advocating for weeks ago. 

Over the course of the crisis, the majority of Ontario's COVID-19 cases have been discovered in Toronto and Peel. 

In her statement, Crombie said that Peel's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, will be revisiting the region’s progress regularly with his provincial counterparts throughout the coming week. 

Crombie said she expects to see the city move to stage 2 sooner rather than later. 

"Over the past three months, we have sacrificed so much. Mississauga is likely on the back end of the curve, and there is only one direction we are heading, and that is forward. The last thing we want to do is reopen too quickly and run the risk of a second wave before we have finished with the first. I ask that Mississaugans continue to be patient. I'm confident that if we keep this up, we will get to Phase 2 sooner rather than later."

Wojcik said an additional week is too long for struggling local businesses.

"A week or longer might not sound like a big deal, but ask local businesses what they think. Every day they stay closed is a day closer to them never re-opening," Wojcik said.

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