Dear Premier Ford,
As you are aware, Kingsville and Leamington small businesses remain closed in Phase 1 while all other businesses are open across the Windsor-Essex Region. Small businesses including, restaurants, hair salons, aestheticians, breweries and wineries remain closed and are on the brink of collapse.
The region of Kingsville-Leamington have built a diverse and robust economy catering to tourism, retirement living, manufacturing and agriculture. The EPIC Wine region along with the local dining district, retail and service sectors and hospitality sector have invested millions of dollars toward making the region a tourist destination.
The current crisis is a massive blow to the area and many of the small businesses may never recover. The region is four weeks behind the the province in re-opening, even though regional and local community transmission numbers are at par with the remainder of Ontario. While the outbreak is largely farm specific, the community tracking of COVID-19 remains under control.
The situation is inherently unfair to the region. The provinces failure to ensure widespread testing in the agriculture sector at the outset of the pandemic has resulted in daily infection counts skyrocketing.
This was all easily preventable. Yet, due to the “essential” status, the agricultural sector remains open and the region’s small business continue to suffer.
In solidarity with Kingsville-Leamington small businesses I am asking your government to do right by the region and provide the following support:
- Kingsville and Leamington to be immediately be permitted to move into Phase 2.
- An immediate financial lifeline for the regions Small Businesses in the form of the following:
- HST relief for the entire 2020 calendar year;
- Provincial Financial support in the form of a $5,000.00 relaunch grant per business to offset the costs of retrofitting business to comply with new health & safety guidelines;
- A Provincial Marketing Stimulus Package for our immediate region of Kingsville & Leamington equivalent to our regional spend over the last 5 years (no less than $5,000,000.00) to be coordinated and administered by both Tourism Ontario and TWEPI.
- Provincial regulation to provide the community with agriculture-specific rules and guidelines (with corresponding penalties for those who fail to comply) to ensure that farms/greenhouses take the health & safety of their workers seriously (and by extension, the safety of the entire region).
Small businesses are the backbone of our province in which we all live, raise families and work. With the help of the provincial government, I am confident the community can reopen their establishments safely and continue to serve our friends, family and neighbours.