Guelph, Ont., July 16, 2020–The Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery continues to urge governments and employers to make the provision of safe, accessible childcare a priority as more businesses call employees back to work as part of the Province’s re-opening plan. Task Force members also continue to examine the impact of post-secondary institutions’ preparations for a hybrid learning model for the upcoming fall semester.
“As we move out of the crisis management stage of the COVID-19 pandemic and plan for more widespread business resumption efforts as Ontario moves towards Stage 3 of the Province’s re-opening plan, I continue to be amazed by the agility, resilience and collaborative spirit of Guelph’s business community,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “There are many successes to celebrate – from securing funding for Guelph’s tourism sector to introducing our downtown dining district – we must remain diligent in our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, and support our local businesses as we move towards our ‘new normal’, whatever it may look like.”
Safe, accessible childcare remains vital to economic and social recovery
At the Task Force’s fifth meeting, held yesterday via teleconference, many of Guelph’s business leaders reinforced their previously-stated observations about the difficulties working parents continue to face in the absence of reliable childcare, and noted that these challenges will be exacerbated in September if schools do not reopen for full-time, in-class learning. Furthermore, some local businesses expressed uncertainty about their ability to attract and retain staff, and identified the availability of childcare for their employees’ families as a vital component of their economic recovery plans.
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.
Post-secondary institutions planning for hybrid learning
The Task Force heard from Daniel Atlin, Vice President (External) of the University of Guelph, about how the University is planning to implement a hybrid learning model for the upcoming semester, with fewer students returning to Guelph in the fall. Task Force members discussed how local businesses who rely on Guelph’s student population for both staffing levels and revenue targets will be impacted by this change.
“The global pandemic has required us to make some difficult choices. The University of Guelph, like most universities, is planning for a hybrid fall semester, with only a small percentage of courses and activities offered face-to-face and far fewer students living in our residences. While we are disappointed that we will not be able to physically welcome most students back to campus, we are confident these are the right decisions to protect our students, their families, faculty, staff and our communities,” said Mr. Atlin. “We recognize that the impact of having fewer students return to Guelph this fall will be felt throughout our community and especially by local businesses. We remain committed to delivering a high-quality, innovative and engaging educational experience and to working in partnership with our local community as we navigate the post-pandemic recovery period together.”
City of Guelph planning for economic recovery
The Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery works alongside Council, the City’s emergency management team and the economic recovery working group to identify and evaluate potential solutions to address both the current needs and long-term sustainability of Guelph’s economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The City’s economic recovery working table has brought forward new municipal programs, initiatives and tactics aimed at supporting the recovery of Guelph’s economy from COVID-19 in staff reports to Council on May 11, June 17 and July 15.
“As we get back to more normal operations and recover from the emergency, we will continue many of the practices that have served us well,” said Kealy Dedman, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of the City’s Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Services. “Those practices include quicker decision-making and a focus on fewer priorities to better meet community needs. Working with our local business community and Task Force members, we’ve learned a number of lessons including the need for more research and innovation, building strategic partnerships that enable rapid response, and more flexibility in our processes and policies.”
Task Force to focus on recovery and resilience initiatives going forward
With input from Task Force members, local business support organizations and City staff, Mayor Guthrie announced that the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery will meet less frequently going forward to allow businesses to focus on recovery and resilience efforts. The group will continue to meet on an as-needed basis, and will respond to challenges and opportunities as they arise based on feedback from the membership.
“On behalf of the City of Guelph, I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Task Force members for contributing their time, skills, and energy in service to our community,” said Mayor Guthrie. “I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve achieved in a few short months, and with how we’ve come together as a group, and I believe that the connections we’ve made and solutions we’ve implemented during the initial stages of this crisis will pave the way for a more resilient economy in the future.”
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.
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Communications Advisor, Mayor’s Office