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Canadian businesses call on feds for optimistic COVID messaging

Last Updated May 19, 2021 at 12:26 pm PDT

FILE -- Signage on a B.C. highway urges people to avoid all non-essential travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ryan Lidemark, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

Business groups across Canada asking Trudeau government change its tone with its public messaging on the pandemic

Perrin Beatty with the Canadian Chamber Of Commerce says messages of fear, rather than optimism is damaging to economy

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Recently, the federal government has been giving Canadians some cautious optimism about the pandemic, but is still warning about the dangers of COVID-19 and the need for restrictions. Several business groups, however, say Ottawa should be focused on a hopeful message.

Perrin Beatty with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says with the peak of the third wave behind Canadians and vaccines pouring in, the government should exchange fear for hope because it will boost consumer confidence and help the economic recovery.

“We have to do our part, but I think what is needed now more than anything else is the assurance that if we do our parts that we can get our lives back,” he explains.

Beatty says if the government doesn’t shift its language, it will only hurt the economy and society.

“What we need to do is to give people some confidence that if we all do the right thing that we can get our lives back sooner.”

Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa, agrees the feds should pivot their messaging and focus on the “carrot and not the stick.”

“We’ve asked people to sacrifice, but we haven’t really given them the reward,” Deonandan says.

But he understands why governments don’t want to overbuild Canadians’ confidence.

“It has the risk of having people behave more irresponsibly in the short run,” Deonandan adds.

Related Article: Canada will need 75% COVID vaccination before U.S. border reopens, Trudeau suggests

On Tuesday, the prime minister and health officials said if 75 per cent of the population has its first dose and 20 per cent is fully vaccinated, then restrictions can start to ease.