The Timmins business community is calling on the Porcupine Health Unit (PHU) to provide benchmarks for reopening in the region.
While the rest of Ontario is entering the Roadmap to Reopening on Friday, June 11, PHU medical officer of health Dr. Lianne Catton said Monday that the region will not be reopening with the rest of the province.
No details on what that means for residents or businesses have been provided by the health unit yet. In an email on Wednesday, PHU communications specialist Gary Schelling said some details "should be made available later today."
The Timmins Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to Catton asking for a "measured, regional metric to reopening." The letter, signed by CAO Keitha Robson and president Melanie Verreault, cites concerns about the impact on the local small- and medium-sized businesses as the rest of the province reopens.
"As previously seen during the regional-based approach to reopening in November 2020, increased movement from clientele travelling to other regions to purchase products and services further exacerbated COVID-19 cases," reads the letter.
"At the risk of encouraging movement as an unintended consequence of this emergency brake extension, benchmarking the Porcupine Health Unit region will provide a timeline that could potentially discourage this movement and provide greater confidence to business owners and operators."
The Porcupine Health Unit has been hit hard during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of yesterday, the total confirmed cases in the region was 1,656. There were 349 known active cases, with most of those being in Timmins and in remote communities on the James Bay coast.
In its letter, the Chamber noted it will continue to help secure more support for First Nation communities.
"We believe that the need to revert to campaigns that discourage regional travel is necessary to mitigate the rise in those communities," it reads.
"We understand the strain this places on your administration, but as office settings continue to see outbreaks, thorough workplace outbreak investigations must subsist as business shutdowns will continue to see a heavy impact on revenues and continuity."
Read the full Chamber letter here.