Federal government urges businesses to prepare for a post-COVID-19 world

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At a June 11 press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised small businesses for utilizing the wage subsidy and Canada Emergency Business Account to keep employees on staff and announced that the government has partnered with the private sector to urge businesses to adopt COVID-19-related safety practices. 

Trudeau said the POST (People Outside Safely Together) Promise initiative calls on businesses to commit to following and implementing five key principles to protect customers and employees from the novel coronavirus as the economy gradually reopens.

"The POST Promise signifies a commitment to implement and practice the five key steps to workplace safety, helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It's supported by many of the largest associations in Canada, which represent thousands of businesses," the website reads. 

"The objective is to have businesses across the country take part in a collective solution to help Canadians confidently and safely take the first steps back into public spaces and the workplace."

The five principles include maintaining physical distancing, washing and sanitizing hands, cleaning and disinfecting regularly, practicing respiratory etiquette (coughing and sneezing into a tissue or sleeve), and staying home if unwell.  

According to the website, businesses who make the promise will be able to use and prominently display the POST Promise logo.

"Together we can keep people safe and give Canadians confidence hat's needed to restart our economy," Trudeau said. 

When asked about the government’s plan to tackle anti-Black racism, Trudeau expressed confidence in RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki after the top Mountie said she is struggling with the definition of systemic racism.

Lucki made the comments during several media interviews on Wednesday in response to allegations of bias and discrimination within the federal police force and others across the country.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May became the latest to level such allegations against the RCMP, calling it a "racist institution" during a news conference on Parliament Hill this morning.

May compared the way she was arrested during a pipeline protest in B.C. in May 2018 to the treatment of Indigenous protesters earlier this year as evidence of bias.

Trudeau said he has worked closely with Lucki over the years and that he trusts the commissioner to lead reforms at the RCMP.

At the press conference, Trudeau said systemic racism exists in institutions across the country, including the RCMP and other police forces, and that they must do better to ensure fairness for all Canadians.

The prime minister also announced that $133 million will be invested in Indigenous-owned businesses. Of the total amount announced today, $117 million is to help small and community-owned Indigenous businesses.

The remaining $16 million is to support Indigenous businesses in the tourism sector, which supports thousands of jobs across the country.

This money adds to $306 million in federal emergency aid announced in April for small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses.

Trudeau also said the government has provided more funding to provinces and territories that will be dolled out to municipalities that are facing staggering deficits due to the pandemic. That announcement comes a few days after the federal government pledged to accelerate the dispersal of gas tax funding to hard-hit towns and cities that have seen their revenue dry up over the course of the crisis. 

Trudeau said the amount of money available to individual municipalities will be announced by Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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