The Ottawa Gatineau Wedding Industry Association (OGWIA) in contact with the Premier of Ontario.

It has been another challenging and disappointing week for everyone in the wedding industry. The number of COVID-19 cases has gone up alarmingly in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The Premiers of Ontario and Quebec have instituted stricter measures which have directly affected our businesses. There is also significant uncertainty, anxiety, and frustration in all of us. While the wedding season is winding down, some of our members still have weddings to fulfill and it gets harder to do that with more restrictions or a shut down.

The OGWIA has been actively advocating for you with notable success. You may have observed that in the restrictions announced by Premier Ford on Friday October 8, that wedding receptions were not outright banned immediately. We were given until October 13. This is a result of the OGWIA making a representation to provincial officials where we asked for notice to cancel weddings. Specifically, we asked that notice be given at the beginning of the week so that we can adjust our events with our couples. It is a small victory but also a signal that they are listening to us.

The OGWIA is scheduling another call with the Premier’s office in the next week. We will give them our reactions on new restrictions, explore better ways to communicate and harmonize the message between Ontario and Quebec, start exploring how instant testing could be used to allow larger gatherings.

And very soon, we will be announcing a new committee structure that we encourage you to join relating to education, networking, membership, and a lot more. Stay tuned for a further update. Thank you for your support. Stay positive and stay healthy.

In the meanwhile, you can see from the timeline narrative below, how the OGWIA got the ear of the Premier.

October 2, 2020

OGWIA board members Brian Henry and Stephanie Brown Malenfant held a conference call with Minister Lisa MacLeod’s office to discuss several key points brought forward by the membership. Minister MacLeod is the minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries for the Province of Ontario and she represents our interests.

During the conference call, we pointed out the value of the local wedding industry at $325 million dollars and more than 5000 employees. We stated that most of our members and the companies in the wedding industry have lost 85-100% of their revenue in 2020. We pointed out, while the wedding industry supports the restrictions to keep everyone safe and healthy, we ask the Provincial government to encourage the Federal government to consider the wedding industry as a sector and offer it financial assistance since our wedding industry has been asked to shut down and reduce its capacity.

The board members further stated that many wedding companies will start 2021 with significant debt related to weddings being postponed or canceled while the expenses to keep the business going continue. The OGWIA made several requests during the conference call which included raising capacity levels to 50% or a maximum of 150 people when Covid19 numbers get under control and its safe to do so. We asked the Province of Ontario to consider standing areas for social bubbles rather than making everyone stay seated during the wedding. We requested clarification on dancing. We asked for the Province of Ontario to consider moving its announcements on new measures to Mondays rather than Fridays because it puts a lot of stress on our membership and our clients when capacity limits change. Currently, the announcements from the province are being issued on Fridays and caterers, venues, florists, décor and rental companies and other businesses that deal with supplies or staff, must quickly address those changes before their weddings start that same day or on the weekend. The last-minute approach leads to waste, staff issues, contract problems, client complaints and cancellations which has resulted in conflicts and loss revenue.

The board members also stated that a closer synergy is important with both Provinces of Ontario and Quebec because we have clients, venues and suppliers that go back and forth in this region and many of them are getting confused or frustrated with the different set of guidelines within their local area.

At the end of the call, the OGWIA pointed out that its members have been working very hard to follow the guidelines of the Province and the health officials and they should be considered separately at all times when it comes to social gathering limits. Our members have followed all the guidelines from the use of PPE, training for staff, contact tracing, safety precautions, reduced hours, signs plus announcements to the guests which is very different than parties or weddings at a private home or farm. The OGWIA was offered to keep an open dialogue with Province of Ontario and Minister MacLeod’s office so we could call on them anytime. Another conference call will be arranged in 2 weeks.

October 6, 2020

Following the announcement by the Province of Ontario on October 2, 2020 at 1pm, capacity for restaurants stayed at 100 people indoors with social distancing of 6 feet while banquet halls went down from 50 people per room to a maximum of 50 people in the building. For venues that only have one room, there was no change. However, for large venues that can divide their space into multiple rooms, their capacity was drastically reduced.

As a result of the announcement, an email was sent by the board to Minister MacLeod’s office asking for an explanation as to why wedding venues and restaurants are being treated differently as it relates to capacity and capped at 50 people while restaurants that tend to be smaller can have 100 people. The OGWIA believes our venue owners are very responsible and proactive and they can provide service to 100 people and more in a safe way – especially the venues with large banquet halls and dividing walls. We are waiting for a response from the Province on our email.

October 9, 2020

Friday, October 9, 2020 was a hard day for all of us in the wedding industry when the Province of Ontario announced several new restrictions for the Ottawa area that will last for 28 days. The restrictions that impact our wedding industry are as follows…

Closing high-contact locations

  • indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and mall food courts
  • personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (for example, for facials or make-up)
  • conference and convention centres,

Reducing capacity limits, where physical distancing can be maintained, include:

  • meeting and event spaces: 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors
  • wedding receptions: 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors
  • social gatherings and organized public events (staffed and unstaffed): 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors — this may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event
  • tour and guide services: 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors
  • open houses: 10 people indoors
  • in-person teaching and instruction (for example, cooking class, music lessons): 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors — this does not include schools, child care centres, universities or colleges

Closing

The OGWIA is actively working on your behalf to promote the value of our industry so every company will survive the pandemic and have success in 2021. We are also working on a tab for the OGWIA website for statements and government updates to help you understand the restrictions and what the future holds for your business.

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