We, the undersigned, represent small businesses in Ontario, and the people who support them. We have united to form the collective, Small Business Defense Ontario, and have retained the law firm of Da Cruz Sommers LLP (www.dcsllp.com) in order to launch a court challenge to the correctness and/or constitutionality of the Ontario government’s shuttering of most businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to pursue the fulfillment of our below stated objectives.
In addition to raising funds for this complex but very important court action, we are actively growing our numbers to include small businesses owners who would like to be part of this movement. Please visit https://www.dcsllp.com/covid-19-lockdown-case to join us in holding our government accountable for their decision making during this crisis. If we don't raise adequate funds for this challenge, your money will be returned pro rata. You can read more about us below:
After the initial devastating shut down, we cautiously reopened in compliance with all the guidelines imposed by the Ontario government. With our profits severely compromised, we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on things like plexi-glass, delivery programs and staff, heaters and other new equipment that allowed our businesses to remain open according to the Ontario guidelines. We conducted screening, asked our customers to wear masks, took their temperatures, and kept meticulous records of every person who has entered into our spaces.
For some of us, the cost of these measures, coupled with the crush of shut downs, forced us to close our businesses permanently, altering our lives forever.
However, despite the enormous price paid by us - the citizens of this province- we do not feel that there has been any accountability to us as tax-payers and human beings living in a democratic nation. We have not had any say in any of the decisions that are ruining our businesses and livelihoods. There has been no transparency about the exact science and calculations to prove that our businesses, operating with masks, social distancing, reduced capacity and sanitization, have been the cause of the rise in Covid-19 cases.
Our small businesses, which easily comply with capacity-limiting regulations and have had no cases connected to our spaces and operations, are being completely shut down. However, large corporations who have reported known cases of Covid-19 have been allowed to stay open, with line ups outside in large numbers - even ‘though all are capable of delivery. These business include:
THE LCBO: https://www.lcbo.com/content/lcbo/en/homepage/statement-on-lcbo-employee-testing-positive-for-covid-19.html
Shoppers Drug Mart
In consideration of the aforementioned, we propose the immediate imposition of a new model for how the Ontario government is permitted to shut down businesses.
Our position is as follows:
1) The Ontario government must provide evidence that a business required to shut down has contributed to community spread. We concede that in the absence of this confirmation, the Ontario government still be allowed to impose stricter control measures on businesses (limited capacity, additional distancing) but that they must not be legally allowed to force the closure of Ontario small businesses with no traceable cases.
2) The Ontario government must make public the scientific studies upon which it bases the recommendations for total shutdowns of small businesses. These studies must be posted online, where they can be subject to the scrutiny of the wider scientific community.
3) The identities of Premiere Ford’s medical advisers must be made public knowledge. Citizens have a right to know whether the individuals making provincial regulations to close their small business are serving any special interest groups.
4) It has been a constant that the LCBO and marijuana dispensaries have remained open as essential services during the pandemic. In light of this, we require an immediate and swift review of the growing body of evidence that exercise mitigates the risk of acquiring Covid-19 and severe outcomes, and may even reduce infection rates. It also plays a significant role in preventing depression and anxiety, and relieves the psycho-social burdens caused by lockdown - according to one below study, “Improving host immunity and mitigating the negative effects of isolation via physical activity is strongly justified.” Another states, “The immobilization due to hospitalization and bed rest and the physical inactivity due to sustained quarantine and social distancing can downregulate the ability of organs systems to resist to viral infection and increase the risk of damage to the immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal systems and the brain.”
Gyms in Ontario have been conducting strict contact tracing, and ensuring that only safely distanced gyms remain open is not a difficult step - but it will save hundreds of businesses in Ontario. Therefore, we ask that an immediate review of the following data be conducted:
In accordance with these findings, gyms and fitness studios that can facilitate safe social distancing must be protected as essential services until such time as a Co-vid-19 case is traced to a given facility.
We must reiterate that we wish to stop the devastating effects of Covid-19 as much as anyone else. Among us and our families are high-risk individuals whom we take great pains to protect by implementing every possible safety measure. We believe we have been successful, without any Covid-19 cases traced to our businesses, or spread to our households and social bubbles. Therefore, in order for us to shut our doors now, we require the Ontario government to substantiate the case for our closures with transparent and concrete data. We believe in protecting our vulnerable loved ones from Covid-19, but also protecting each other from financial ruin, and the depression, illness and suicide that follows as a consequence. We are not anti-maskers. We are not covid-deniers. We are citizens asking the provincial government to be accountable to its people.
Without a set of Federal shutdown guidelines that does its utmost to the small businesses of this province, this latest shutdown sets a dangerous precedent for the government to freely destroy the livelihoods of its citizens, free of any warning, legal process, parameters, or accountability.
We are asking only that the Ontario government take full responsibility for its handling of this crisis by providing small business owners with transparent science and real justification for closing us down. In the absence of their doing so, we cannot stand idly by.
- Justine Wieczorek
- Irina Todd
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