Guelph, Ont., June 18, 2020–During the fourth meeting of the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery, held yesterday via teleconference, leaders from Guelph’s business community identified childcare availability and ongoing access to government funding and support programs as critical components of a comprehensive economic recovery plan. As with previous meetings, the Task Force continues to pursue both community- and government-led solutions to support local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With more businesses resuming operations and re-opening their doors to customers as we enter Stage 2, it’s more important than ever that we have an all-hands-on-deck recovery plan that brings together governments, the private sector, not-for-profit organizations and local support agencies,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “A coordinated effort will ensure we’re addressing not only the public health and economic aspects of Guelph’s recovery, but also the social supports employees and their families need as they go back to work.”
Task Force members also discussed the anticipated impact postsecondary institutions, including the University of Guelph and Conestoga College, will have on Guelph’s local economy as administrators plan for modified programming and e-learning in the fall. This topic will be explored in more detail at the next Task Force meeting, currently scheduled for July 15.
Childcare availability critical to recovery
Task Force members from all sectors identified safe and reliable childcare as vital to economic recovery, with many employers reporting uncertainty and concern about how they will accommodate workers with young children as businesses reopen. Like many of their counterparts across the province, some of Guelph’s local childcare providers are calling for further consultation with policymakers and public health officials as they work to reopen for their clients.
“The Guelph YMCA-YWCA is not only the largest provider of childcare in Guelph and Wellington County, but the YMCA is also the largest provider of childcare in Ontario and Canada. We are also a charity that has been proudly serving Guelph for more than 100 years. Childcare is vital to the economic recovery of our community, but we are all living in a new normal,” said Geoff Vogt, Chief Executive Officer of the Guelph YMCA-YWCA. “At the Guelph Y, we know that childcare will look different when we reopen, with fewer spaces to accommodate physical distancing, careful screening for staff and children, PPE for staff and increased cleaning and disinfecting processes. Our job is to ensure as safe an environment as possible for children, families and our staff, and this will require careful planning and partnership with all levels of government and our local health unit. We thank the community for its patience as we work to get this right.”
The Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery, with leadership from Mayor Guthrie, MP Lloyd Longfield and MPP Mike Schreiner, will continue to advocate for operational guidance and financial support from the provincial government for childcare providers and families.
Support needed from all levels of government
Task Force reiterated the need to municipal, provincial and federal support programs and relief packages to help businesses of all sizes address the operational and financial challenges they have faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Cam Guthrie, MP Lloyd Longfield and MPP Mike Schreiner are working together to advocate for and promote programs that will benefit Guelph’s business owners and operators as well as employees, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), and others.
Guelph’s elected officials previously issued a joint letter to the Province of Ontario calling for a ban on commercial evictions during COVID-19. On June 17, the Province passed the Protecting Small Business Act, which temporarily halts or reverses evictions of commercial tenants and protects them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19.
City of Guelph planning for economic recovery
In a report to Council on June 17, City staff introduced a number of recommendations for municipal programs and policies to support local businesses and stimulate economic recovery, including the creation of a dining district in the downtown to build on a new temporary patio program, reopening the Guelph Farmers’ Market, and temporarily suspending mobile sign fees and some regulations in support of businesses. Council approved these recommendations.
“City staff are working hard to be agile and creative in responding to our community’s needs during these extraordinarily difficult times,” said Kealy Dedman, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of the City’s Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Services. “We are listening to and collaborating with local businesses so we can enact the policies and programs they need to get back up and running as quickly as possible. We appreciate their patience and support as we work through these challenges together.”
About the Task Force
The Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery is made up of 28 business owners and operators, government representatives and support agencies who represent organizations of all sizes and across various sectors, including manufacturing, social enterprise, education, energy, hospitality and tourism, and arts and culture.
- Guelph’s COVID-19 recovery efforts well underway (news release)
- Guelph’s temporary seasonal patio program
- Guelph Chamber of Commerce PPE Directory
- Province of Ontario Support for Businesses
- Government of Canada Support for Businesses
Communications Advisor, Mayor’s Office