Businesses want to split Northern Health Region to allow targeted health restrictions
'We're a lot different than farther up north where all these cases are'
Business representatives are proposing Manitoba's Northern Health Region be split into northwest and northeast areas in order to better target COVID-19 restrictions according to communities' case counts.
Representatives from the chambers of commerce for The Pas, Flin Flon, Snow Lake and Manitoba met with provincial health officials on Thursday morning to discuss the possibility.
"Our numbers are very low," said Jill Wilkinson, president of The Pas Chamber of Commerce.
"We kind of want to be placed with the rest of the [southern] province," she said.
Wilkinson believes that businesses in small towns are more vulnerable to economic hardships and the impact of closures are felt more widely in a community like The Pas.
Representatives from the chambers propose using Highway 6 as a dividing line between two distinct regions for COVID-19 restrictions only.
This proposal would help business owners like Cheryl Zaharia, who owns a hair salon in The Pas.
Her salon is one of the many businesses forced to close for the last three months due to health restrictions she thinks are unfair.
"We're a lot different than farther up north where all these cases are. We don't have that in our little town. These places are, you know, 800 kilometres away from us," she said.
Zaharia has owned her business, Cheryl'Z Hair Den, for 30 years but is not sure she'll survive if the restrictions continue.
"I would really, really like to go back to work. I mean, everybody has bills to pay, right? So just think of having no paycheque for three months. It's getting pretty tough," she said.
For now chamber representatives are reminding people to abide by the regulations set out by the government.
"We feel that the meeting was successful, and our request will be reviewed by the province in the near future. We hope to have a positive response from the government of Manitoba," said Alan McLauchlan, vice-president of The Pas and District Chamber of Commerce, in a press release.