BY ALEX GREGORY
We’re all supporting them together. That was the message conveyed by municipal leaders and representatives from Mississauga’s Chinese Business Association, called in response to fear and uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on Chinese-owned businesses throughout the city. Following a tour of a local supermarket in Markham last week, leaders from Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie (left) speaks to media outlets regarding the impact of fear and loss of traffic at Chinese‐owned businesses during a press conference held on Feb. 19, 2020. (PWN Staff) Mississauga’s Chinese community, local politicians and advocates were on-hand to urge the public that “misconceptions” have damaged local Chinese-owned businesses, and that it is safe to enjoy the establishments.
“The virus has impacted Chinese-owned businesses,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie, speaking in Foodie North, a restaurant located in the Central Parkway/Confederation area that had seen its regular customers dwindle by more than 50 per cent over the last several weeks. “We want everyone to come back and enjoy these businesses.” While uncertainty may continue to loom regarding the fatalities related to the coronavirus in China, only eight cases have been reported in Canada, with no new cases being reported in Ontario as of Tuesday, according to the province’s public health unit Crombie told reporters Wednesday night that fears over safety and cleanliness have damaged public perception.
She assured residents that the tourism industry was still strong in the city and beyond. “We want to ensure that our economy thrives,” she said. Crombie’s sentiments echoed those of Toronto Mayor John Tory and provincial officials, who held a trilateral press conference last week to reassure the public that fear and discrimination had impacted businesses throughout the GTA. “We want to make sure that people know it’s safe to go out,” said provincial health minister Christine Elliott. “It’s safe to come to your favourite restaurants (and) it’s safe to go shopping.” Foodie North opened in 2016 and bills itself as an open-concept kitchen delivering fare originating from northern China. The restaurant has seen its regular visitors drop off dramatically, which is “very unusual”, said restaurant owner Felix Li. “We want people to visit… we usually have lineups,” he said, motioning to a near-empty dining room. To that end, the Mississauga Chinese Business Association (MCBA) is collaborating with other regional associations to spearhead a “Spend to Win” campaign, which encourages diners to visit participating restaurants for the chance to win one of several prizes. “We’re trying to encourage people to come out and support the businesses,” said MCBA president Winnie Fung, who spoke to media outlets about the disruptions to Chineseowned businesses in different sectors, such as travel agencies and local markets.
“The whole supply chain has been affected.” Last week, Ontario chief medical officer David Williams confirmed that the province’s third case of the 2019 novel coronavirus, found in London on Jan. 31, had been resolved. “I want to reassure everyone that the risk from 2019 novel coronavirus to Ontarians remains low,” Williams said in a statement. In an earlier op-ed piece for The Globe and Mail, Williams, who served as Peel’s medical officer of health during the SARS epidemic, cautioned that discrimination caused by fear and uncertainty did significant damage to public perception – an “epidemic” of its own. “In a time of panic, sober reality can become a rare resource,” Williams wrote on Jan. 23. “But the fact is this: Formerly deadly communicable diseases have been largely banished from the top ranks of causes of death in wealthy countries by better sanitation and living standards, antibiotics and vaccines, and it is now very uncommon for a healthy person to die of an infection transmitted by another person, even during an outbreak.”