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CFIB calls on the Saskatchewan government to support small businesses under the new public health restrictions

Regina, September 17, 2021 – Saskatchewan’s incoming public health restrictions raise significant questions and concerns for affected businesses, in addition to imposing new costs and staffing challenges, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). CFIB is calling on the provincial government to work closely with business stakeholders over the next two weeks to ensure these questions and concerns are addressed before October 1, 2021. 

“We appreciate the Government of Saskatchewan is trying to avoid another full out lockdown, as it would be devastating to small businesses. However, there are many logistical challenges the incoming public health restrictions will have for small businesses that must be addressed before October 1st,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director, prairie region. “In other provinces with a proof of vaccination program, CFIB has received hundreds of calls expressing concerns and questions, from how to implement such programs, to what their legal liability is.”  

Some of the questions CFIB anticipates Saskatchewan small business owners will have about the new proof of vaccination or negative test requirements include:

  • What can they do to protect their staff who have to refuse entry to unvaccinated patrons?
  • Do event venues have to refund contracts (such as a wedding) if the clients are unvaccinated? Do they have liability immunity protecting them from being taken to small claims court for a cancelled event?
  • How can they avoid fraud? Are they liable if a customer presents fraudulent or doctored documents?

If the business owner or staff are unvaccinated, does that mean they cannot enter their own business as a patron?

Businesses affected by vaccine passports need more support

Recent CFIB research shows that 64 per cent of Saskatchewan’s small business owners agree vaccine passports would be a helpful replacement for lockdowns that would help keep most businesses open. However, these restrictions will still place significant costs and potential liability on business owners that will be required to participate in the new passport system. 

CFIB is calling on the Government of Saskatchewan to support impacted businesses by:

  • Creating a strong financial support program to help small business owners deal with increased labour costs, loss of customers and new costs for smart devices
  • Developing an official government poster/signage explaining the rules on vaccine passports and what customers must show to gain entry
  • Developing training for small businesses and their staff to help them when it comes to dealing with a very divided public, including what to do if a customer refuses to comply with the rules
  • Explaining the legal aspects of vaccine passports and develop clear guidelines addressing concerns around data collection
  • Ensuring a system exists to allow businesses, such as gyms, to check the credentials only once for regular customers
  • Clarifying that a business will have to use its best efforts, but will not be liable if facing a fraudulent or doctored piece of evidence or if a customer refuses to comply with the rules
  • Developing alternatives for areas without readily available internet and who cannot use QR codes 
  • Making sure businesses aren’t hit with new or ongoing restrictions while having to carry out a government-mandated proof of vaccine program. If businesses are limited to fully vaccinated customers only, policies such as capacity limits must be avoided

“Let’s not forget businesses that will check vaccine credentials or negative test results are also among the hardest hit by closures and restrictions, such as restaurants, fitness facilities and event venues. Many are still nowhere near fully recovered yet are also now dealing with massive debt and historic labour shortages,” added Alward. “The Government of Saskatchewan must provide significant support to these impacted businesses if they expect them to take on yet another burden.”

To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, CFIB's director, prairie region, please call (431) 998-4498, or e-mail [email protected]a. You can also follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter at @cfibSK.

About CFIB The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members (9,300 in Alberta) across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.  

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