Help coming for Manitoba businesses affected by latest COVID-19 restrictions, province says
Details arrive this week on a program to support businesses affected by the latest health restrictions in the event of a pandemic in Manitoba, a provincial spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The announcement comes after opposition NDP and business advocates said the government must step in to help as new restrictions took effect on Tuesday.
Restaurants, bars and theaters are now limited to 50% of their capacity in Manitoba, as part of an effort to stem the threat of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
NDP leader Wab Kinew compared the situation to A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ classic novel about the miser Ebenezer Scrooge.
“People are losing their wages and we are just a few naps before Christmas,” he said.
Shaun Jeffrey, CEO of the Manitoba Restaurants and Food Services Association, said on Monday that restaurants and lounges would lose a lot of revenue during what is typically their busiest season of the year.
“We’re hoping… the government can come to the table with some kind of help on this, because our industry will close first and open last, and bear the brunt of trying to keep Manitobans safe.” , did he declare.
Manitoba Chamber of Commerce President Chuck Davidson said that while the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has taken everyone by surprise, it is time for the province to revisit government support programs for businesses, most of which have ended.
“What we’re looking at right now is [asking] that the companies that are asked to actually shoulder the burden of this debt have to be compensated in return, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all, “he said.
This help is coming, says the province.
“A program to provide additional support to businesses affected by the latest public health restrictions is being finalized and details will be announced tomorrow,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to CBC on Tuesday.
Call on the military to help increase: NPD
The opposition is also urging the province to call in the military to help as the Omicron variant threatens to overwhelm Manitoba’s healthcare system.
On Monday, the province reported 809 new cases of COVID-19 and six deaths in three days, with 333 cases for Sunday alone.
302 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday.
Ottawa said on Saturday it would be sending up to eight Canadian Red Cross intensive care unit nurses to Manitoba in response to a request from the province the previous weekend.
Kinew said that would not be enough and the province should call in the military now.
“We need a lot more nurses, respiratory therapists and healthcare professionals to help strengthen the situation in the intensive care units,” he said.
“They must deal with this situation with the urgency it demands. It starts with calling in the military.”
The NDP leader said just over a year ago his party was calling on then-premier Brian Pallister to call in the military as Manitoba deals with hundreds of new COVID cases -19 per day and fatal epidemics in several personal care homes.
He called on Prime Minister Heather Stefanson not to follow in the footsteps of her predecessor, who said the military would not be necessary.
NDP health care spokesperson Uzoma Asagwara said they also heard people wait up to three or four hours for a COVID-19 test, and that additional resources are also needed in this domain.
“When people hear that there are three to four hour waits for testing, unfortunately there will be people who won’t wait,” Asagwara said.
A spokesperson for Manitoba Health said the province was grateful for the support of the Canadian Red Cross and the federal government, with nurses arriving on Monday to reinforce the staff at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Center.
The supply of eight nurses, however, falls short of the province’s initial demand of 15 to 30 nurses for a six-week period.
“The conversation continues with the federal government for further help with health human resources,” the Manitoba Health spokesperson said in an email to CBC.