For the past week, Premier Ford has noted the important role Ontario’s businesses play in helping the government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and praised the creativity and community spirit of those businesses that have stepped up with support.
Today’s press conference was an urgent call to Ontario business, particularly the manufacturing sector, to step up and help with the manufacture of essential supplies including ventilators, masks, gowns and other protective items, and offered funding to help businesses transition towards this effort.
The province has launched an online portal called Ontario Together (www.ontario.ca/ontariotogether) where businesses can submit proposals to the government as to how they can help procure much needed supplies more quickly. These proposals will be triaged based on sector and identified need.
For more information business can go to www.ontario.ca/ontariotogether.
Behind this web portal, public servants will triage industry proposals at Supply Chain Ontario. Industries that need grants to take up a new activity in the interests of the greater public good will be referred internally to the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
Businesses should clearly outline in their proposals where they need support for retooling if they are seeking a grant. The government will also be looking for companies to identify regulatory barriers. Business can also identify gaps they see and offer solutions to help address them.
This single portal is the government’s way to offer businesses one clear, simple way to get their ideas in. The government is listening intently and looking not only for ideas to accelerate or modify production and to knock down barriers but also for advice from international companies that have initiated best practices elsewhere. The government is ready to perform a match-making role to connect domestic suppliers to assemble, package or transport products.
This is a multi-ministry effort, including Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, as well as others. It is multi-sectoral, involving not only manufacturing but life sciences and others. It seeks to push past the usual silos and processes of government to streamline and focus on outcomes that matter in the very short term.
It is likely that this initiative will have imperfections as public servants and political leadership alike learn as they go, but speaks to the government’s desire to move rapidly where it can and to work actively with the private sector in confronting the spread of the novel coronavirus.