An open letter to Minister Hajdu from Chamber CEOs

This letter originally appeared on National Newswatch.

RE: New health and safety guidelines for employers

Dear Minister Hajdu: 

Thank you for your continued leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the entire network of chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the country value how receptive the federal government has been to the needs of business during this difficult time.

When the time comes to cautiously re-open businesses across Canada, the safety of workers and consumers must be paramount. It is for that reason the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recommends that Health Canada (in coordination with provincial/territorial health officers) develop updated guidelines for employers – alongside a public health campaign for consumers – on proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health and safety considerations related to combatting COVID-19.

For many employers and employees, this pandemic was their first experience with using PPE and/or meeting stricter health and safety standards. In the rush to acquire and distribute PPE, many businesses may not have had the time or knowledge to appropriately educate their employees on best practices for use.

We therefore ask that the Government of Canada help businesses prepare for a re-opening of the economy by:

  • Developing education and awareness materials directed at both employers and the general public (e.g. what is appropriate PPE and how to use it, physical distancing best practices, suitable sanitation standards, etc.);
  • Encouraging provincial/territorial harmonization of future health and safety expectations to simplify compliance for those firms that operate across the country; and 
  • Assisting companies to procure the supplies and implement the practices needed to re-open.

Finally, we encourage the government to act on these recommendations as soon as possible. Advanced notice will remove uncertainty and allow businesses the time to develop cost-effective re-opening plans.

We believe evidence-based and clear health and safety standards can not only ease the transition to re-opening the economy, but can re-build trust between employers, employees, and consumers during this time of uncertainty. Government leadership on this issue is therefore critical.

Public health and safety are priorities for all Canadian businesses. We will continue to monitor and assess new developments pertaining to COVID-19 closely and work with our members, partners, and all levels of government to provide support to our communities.

Sincerely,

Val Litwin
President and CEO
BC Chamber of Commerce

Ken Kobly
President and CEO
Alberta Chamber of Commerce

Chuck Davidson
President and CEO
Manitoba Chambers of Commerce

Rocco Rossi
President and CEO
Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Charles Milliard
Président-directeur general
Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec

Sheri Somerville
CEO
Atlantic Chamber of Commerce

Peter Turner
President
Yukon Chamber of Commerce

Renée Comeau
Executive Director
NWT Chamber of Commerce

Steve McLellan
CEO
Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce

Hon. Perrin Beatty P.C., O.C.
President and CEO
Canadian Chamber of Commerce