BERNIER: starting the recovery right here

Local businesses are coming back from the pandemic shutdown in every part of the Peace.

It’s great to see the entrepreneurial spirit that is driving this reopening. Owners and operators have gone through one of the toughest couple of months that small businesses and employers have faced in almost a century. So many of them faced a complete shutdown because of COVID-19. They struggled to stay afloat through the pandemic and their closure. Now they are looking to adapt to the new normal so they can get people back on the job and welcome customers back.

It’s a daunting task. There are new rules on social distancing, cleaning, and public safety to be implemented. And then there is the simple day-to-day challenge of meeting a payroll and managing a business.

Unfortunately, their efforts to get their employees back to work and their businesses up and running are not being helped by government. I’ve connected with many businesses who’ve been working to get their businesses open by the end of May and they’ve told me the one thing they need – clear and precisive information – has been lacking.

Owners and managers have told me that when they ask WorkSafeBC whether their business falls into a category that is able to reopen (or not), they are simply told the rules for reopening if they choose to do so. They have no clear direction what category their businesses is in. It’s frustrating and confusing for people whose operations and futures are already under threat. I’ll keep pushing the government to find a way to deliver better answers to our small and medium-sized local businesses.

We also have the chance, as a community, to get behind our local businesses. It is why I’m working with colleagues from the City of Dawson Creek, Community Futures Peace Liard, Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce, and Lake View Credit Union on the Dawson Creek Business Resilience Team. We’re constantly exploring ways to help local businesses get people back on the job and back in stores.

We’re also encouraging everyone who can to shop local – something that will be a key part of the new normal. Every dollar spent close to home helps support a neighbour, helps support local services, and helps build a stronger community. Make your next purchase at the store instead of online. Support a local restaurant by ordering take out – or dining in if they’re set up for that. Each of us can play a key role in the economic recovery.

The last week of May is National Tourism Week. Long trips are still not going to be part of this. Instead, it’s a great time to be a part of the recovery by being a tourist at home – patronize a local business, buy a gift card, and safely explore open facilities close to home.

If you have any ideas or questions, please contact me through my office at mike.bernier.MLA@leg.bc.ca, through my Facebook page at MikeBernierBC, at (250) 782-3430, or 1 (855) 582-3430.
For the most up-to-date non-medical information, including the latest travel restrictions, and provincial and federal programs, call 1 888 COVID-19 or visit www.gov.bc.ca/COVID19.

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