Transcript: COVID-19's Forgotten Industry: Personal Care | Apr 16, 2021

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length straight brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a gray blazer over a blue blouse.

A caption on screen reads "COVID-19's forgotten industry: Personal care. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says LOCKDOWNS HAVE HIT SOME SECTORS MUCH HARDER THAN OTHERS. ACCORDING TO THE BEAUTY UNITED COUNCIL OF ONTARIO, 82 percent OF BEAUTY INDUSTRY BUSINESSES IN THE PROVINCE COULD FACE PERMANENT CLOSURE DUE TO THIS PANDEMIC. AND OF THE 200,000 PEOPLE EMPLOYED BY THE SECTOR, THEY ALSO POINT OUT THAT 80 percent ARE WOMEN. THE PERSONAL CARE INDUSTRY IS HURTING. WITH US TO UNDERSTAND HOW BADLY: IN THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO: ISABELLA FOGLIA, IS THE OWNER OF BOTANICA LUXURY SPA...

Isabella is in her late twenties, with long curly dark hair. She's wearing a gray sweater.

Nam continues IN ST CATHARINES, ONTARIO: PAOLA GIROTTI, CHAIR OF THE NON-PROFIT, BEAUTY UNITED COUNCIL OF ONTARIO, AND OWNER OF SUGAR MOON SALON, WHICH OPERATES OUT OF BURLINGTON AND TORONTO...

Paola is in her thirties, with wavy chestnut hair. She's wearing a white blazer and a black shirt.

Nam continues IN PICKERING, ONTARIO: SHAWN LEWIS... ALSO KNOWN AS BUCKY THE BARBER... OWNER OF CUSTOM CUTZ, THAT'S LOCATED IN PICKERING AND WHITBY...

Shawn is in his thirties, bald, with a boxed beard. He's wearing glasses and a black jacket.

Nam continues AND IN THE WEST END OF ONTARIO'S CAPITAL CITY: NORM WRIGHT, WHO'S A COLOUR TECHNICIAN AT TAZ HAIR CO.

Norm is in his forties, with long brown hair in a ponytail and a trimmed goatee. He's wearing glasses and a printed black shirt.

Nam continues HELLO TO YOU ALL.

Norm says HELLO.

Shawn says HELLO HELLO.

Nam says I JOKED BEFORE THAT I HAD TO MAKE SURE THAT I KIND OF LOOKED HALF DECENT FOR THIS PANEL. BUT ALL JOKES ASIDE, THIS YEAR HAS BEEN VERY DIFFICULT FOR YOUR INDUSTRY. I WANTED TO GET AN IDEA OF WHAT THE PAST YEAR HAS BEEN LIKE FOR YOU, AND ISABELLA, AS IS OUR TRADITION BECAUSE YOU'RE THE FURTHEST AWAY, I'LL START WITH YOU.

The caption changes to "Isabella Foglia. Botanica Luxury Spa."
Then, it changes again to "The financial toll."

Isabella says IT'S BEEN JUST ABSOLUTELY UNIMAGINABLY DIFFICULT. LIKE, JUST SO FINANCIALLY STRAINING, AND IT'S JUST BEEN... WE'VE BEEN LEFT WITH FEELING JUST SO UNESSENTIAL AFTER ALL OF THIS.

Nam says AND PAOLA, HOW ABOUT YOU?

The caption changes to "Paola Girotti. Beauty United Council of Ontario."

Paola says FOR ME I HAVE TWO THOUGHTS. ONE, PERSONALLY, I AM OBVIOUSLY FINANCIALLY DEVASTATED. I'M ALSO A SINGLE MOM RAISING TWO KIDS, AND SO I HAVE THAT PARENTAL ASPECT WHERE MY KIDS HAVE BEEN AT HOME, AND THEN I ALSO HAVE A TEAM OF 33. SO PROFESSIONALLY, I'M EXHAUSTED BECAUSE WE TOOK ON THIS ROLE TO REALLY CHAMPION OUR INDUSTRY WITH GOVERNMENT, AND IT'S BEEN VERY DIFFICULT TO WORK WITH THE PREMIER AFTER A YEAR OF CLOSURE.

Nam says AND, SHAWN, WHAT ABOUT YOU?

The caption changes to "Shawn Lewis. Custom Cutz."

Shawn says I WOULD SAY IT'S VERY STRESSFUL. VERY, VERY STRESSFUL, AND JUST NOT KNOWING WHEN THE DOORS ARE GOING TO OPEN, NOT KNOWING WHEN THE DOORS ARE GOING TO CLOSE, HAS BEEN TRAGIC FOR THE MIND AND THE MENTAL FOR US, HONESTLY.

Nam says AND, NORM, WHAT ABOUT YOU?

The caption changes to "Norm Wright. Taz Hair Co."

Norm says WE'RE ALL VERY, VERY TERRIFIED ABOUT WHAT THE FATE OF OUR INDUSTRY IS GOING TO BE AFTER THIS. WE HAVE ALL TRIED TO PLACE LOGIC ON THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS THAT OUR READERS ARE MAKING, AND CLEARLY PERSONAL CARE HASN'T BEEN THE CULPRIT IN THIS BECAUSE WE'VE BEEN CLOSED LONGER THAN ANY OTHER SECTOR ON THE CONTINENT. SO MAKING US BEAR THE BRUNT OF THIS HAS BEEN VERY CHALLENGING.

Nam says I DON'T KNOW IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO READ THE ARTICLE FROM MATT GURNEY, WHO IS A JOURNALIST HERE, AND HE ALSO WRITES FOR TVO.ORG. A COUPLE OF DAYS HE HAD AN ARTICLE CALLED "WHO'S IN CHARGE IN ONTARIO AND WHAT THE H-E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS IS GOING ON?" MATT WRITES...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "What the H is going on?" The quote reads "There's plenty of other stuff to worry about, to state the blindingly obvious. Ontario's ICUs are getting awfully damned full, and the impact of the latest stay-at-home order probably won't even begin to bring down daily case growth until next week at the earliest. We're in for a rough April and May. But the haircuts-and-patio story is still a small but telling hint that seemingly no one was paying attention at the highest levels as we plodded confidently and serenely into this disaster."
Quoted from Matt Gurney, TVO.org. April 12, 2021.

Nam says ISABELLA, THOSE ARE SOME STRONG WORDS FROM MATT. CAN YOU GIVE US A SENSE AS TO HOW THE LOCKDOWN HAS AFFECTED YOU FINANCIALLY?

Isabella says HONESTLY, AT THIS POINT, I'M AT THE POINT OF BANKRUPTCY. LIKE, I'M A NEW BUSINESS OWNER. I'M 27. I'M IN MY SECOND AND A HALF YEAR OF BUSINESS. AND I HAVE EXHAUSTED ALL OF MY SAVINGS, MY HUSBAND'S SAVINGS. WE'VE GOT NOTHING LEFT. AND JUST TO PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE, I ACTUALLY HAD MY CAR REPOSSESSED ON MONDAY BECAUSE I HAD FALLEN BEHIND ON MY PAYMENTS AND I HAVE NOT RECEIVED ANY TYPE OF FUNDING FROM THE GOVERNMENT. I HAVEN'T EVEN RECEIVED THE CERB, WHICH IS THE 900 dollars EVERY TWO WEEKS. MY APPLICATION KEEPS GETTING DENIED AND I'VE BEEN WAITING SINCE JANUARY TO GET A RESPONSE BACK WITH THE ONTARIO MAINSTREAM GRANT AS WELL. SO AT THIS POINT, I'VE GOT NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE. I'VE LOST IT ALL.

Nam says I THINK PEOPLE WATCHING AND LISTENING, BECAUSE I THINK WE'VE BEEN HEARING THIS FROM THE GOVERNMENT, IS THAT THERE ARE SUPPORTS FOR BUSINESSES AND PEOPLE SHOULD APPLY FOR THESE FUNDS. THERE'S MONEY THERE AND THEY SHOULD APPLY FOR IT. BUT YOU JUST MENTIONED THAT YOU DID APPLY FOR THOSE BENEFITS. YOU HAVEN'T RECEIVED THEM. YOUR CAR WAS REPOSSESSED. YOU WANT TO WORK, BUT YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO WORK. HOW DOES THAT FEEL?

Isabella says IT'S JUST... IT MAKES YOU FEEL SO UNIMPORTANT. AND I'VE LOST ALL OF MY MOTIVATION. I'VE LOST ALL OF MY DESIRE AND MY WANT TO DO ANYTHING. I'M STUCK AT HOME, AND I NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT I WOULD HAVE TO BEG JUST TO GO TO WORK TO MAKE A LIVING FOR MYSELF. SO TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS AT NO FAULT OF MY OWN, AND I KNOW THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN THE SAME SITUATION, IT'S MIND-BLOWING BECAUSE WE PUT SO MUCH FAITH IN OUR LEADERS. WE PUT SO MUCH FAITH IN THEIR DECISION-MAKING ABILITIES. AND WE'VE BEEN BEGGING FOR MONTHS TO LOCK US DOWN HARD. IF THEY WOULD HAVE DONE THIS BACK IN DECEMBER WHEN THEY HAD THE FIRST STAY-AT-HOME... OR, SORRY, THE SECOND STAY-AT-HOME ORDER, THEN MAYBE WE WOULDN'T BE IN THE SITUATION THAT WE'RE IN NOW. BUT WE'VE SENT HUNDREDS OF EMAILS. WE HAVE CALLED OUR PREMIER. WE HAVE CALLED OUR HEALTH MINISTER. WITH NOT EVEN ANY TYPE OF RESPECT BACK TOWARDS US. THEY DIDN'T EVEN ANSWER OUR QUESTIONS AS TO WHY WE'VE BEEN THE INDUSTRY THAT'S BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST.

Nam says PAOLA, I JUST WANT TO JUMP OFF A WORD THAT ISABELLA JUST USED, "UNIMPORTANT." YOU'RE THE CHAIR OF THE BEAUTY UNITED COUNCIL OF ONTARIO. DO YOU FEEL THAT THAT'S HOW THIS GOVERNMENT HAS TREATED YOUR SECTOR, AS UNIMPORTANT?

The caption changes to "Paola Girotti. Sugar Moon Salon. @beautyunitedcan."

Paola says WELL, I DEFINITELY THINK THAT THERE IS A LEVEL OF UNFAIRNESS IN HOW WE'VE BEEN TREATED. THEY HAVE A REAL HEALTH CRISIS ON THEIR HANDS. AND CERTAINLY I WOULDN'T WANT TO BE A POLITICIAN. BUT I THINK THAT WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO GET ACROSS AS A SECTOR IS THAT THERE IS A LEVEL OF UNFAIRNESS, AND WE ARE LOOKING TO BE TREATED FAIRLY. WE'VE SEEN PREMIER FORD STEP UP TO THE CHALLENGE WITH OTHER INDUSTRIES. BUT WE HAVE NOT YET BEEN TREATED FAIRLY BY HIM AND WE ARE GOING TO HOLD HIM TO HIS WORD THE OTHER DAY WHERE HE WAS TALKING ABOUT OUR INDUSTRY AND SAYING, YOU KNOW, TRUST ME, I HAVE YOUR BACKS. WELL, MR. PREMIER, IF YOU ARE LISTENING, WE ARE WAITING. WE HAVE A PLAN.

Nam says WHAT IS THE PLAN?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Paola says SO, BEAUTY UNITED COUNCIL OF ONTARIO IS NOW WORKING WITH AND PARTNERING WITH MAXELL, WHO IS ONE OF THE LEADERS IN DENTAL HYGIENE AND ACTUALLY HELPED THE DENTAL HYGIENISTS ACTUALLY GET BACK TO WORK LAST YEAR. AND BECAUSE THIS GOVERNMENT IS SO ALL ABOUT DATA, WHAT WE DO KNOW IS THAT MAXELL HAS THE DATA THAT THEY'VE KEPT DENTAL HYGIENE SAFE. AND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT HYGIENISTS ACTUALLY WORKING IN THE MOUTH AND ALL THE AEROSOLITES THEY CREATE, OUR SECTOR IS NOWHERE NEAR THAT TYPE OF HIGH RISK. AND SO YESTERDAY IN FACTUALLY WE RELEASED THIS TO THE NEWS, TO LET THEM KNOW THAT WE... OUR SECTOR IS TAKING MATTERS INTO OUR OWN HANDS TO GET THE SUPPORT OF PUBLIC HEALTH BASED ON DATA FROM MAXELL AND HOW THEY'VE BEEN ABLE TO CHAMPION DENTAL HYGIENISTS. SO AFTER THIS CALL, I WILL BE REACHING OUT TO THE TWO OTHERS, NORM AND I WORKED CLOSELY TOGETHER ON THIS MISSION, AND WE'D LOVE TO BE ABLE TO HELP YOU.

Nam says WELL, YOU MENTIONED THAT THE PREMIER MENTIONED YOUR SECTOR A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO. WE ACTUALLY HAVE A CLIP OF THAT. THIS WAS THIS PAST TUESDAY. SHELDON, CAN YOU PLEASE ROLL?

A clip plays on screen with the caption "April 13, 2021."
In the clip, Premier Doug Ford gives a statement.

He says I LOOK LIKE A SHEEPDOG. MY DAUGHTER WHO LIVES AT HOME, NEVER HAS CUT ANYONE'S HAIR IN THEIR LIFE, I JUST SAT IN THE CHAIR AND SAID, HONEY, GO TO TOWN. WE COULDN'T EVEN FIGURE OUT HOW TO WORK THESE CLIPPERS. AND I GRABBED THEM AND ZINGED HALF MY HEAD SO IT'S HALF BALD ON ONE SIDE. THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED. BUT ON A MORE SERIOUS NOTE, MY HEARTBREAKS FOR THESE BARBERS AND HAIR STYLISTS THAT HAVE BEEN SHUT DOWN FOREVER. IT REALLY DOES. AND I'M GOING TO DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO GET YOU BACK OPEN.

The clip ends.

Nam says IN FAIRNESS, WHEN THAT CLIP WAS SHARED ON SOCIAL MEDIA, I LIKED IT. I THOUGHT IT WAS VERY CUTE. I THOUGHT THIS IS SUCH A NICE MOMENT. BUT THEN AFTERWARDS, I KIND OF THOUGHT ABOUT IT DIFFERENTLY. NORM, WHEN YOU SAW THAT CLIP, WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU HEARD THE PREMIER MENTION YOUR CRAFT IN THAT CONTEXT?

The caption changes to "A sector's reputation and future."

Norm says IT'S NOT THE FIRST TIME THAT'S BEEN MENTIONED LIKE THAT. DURING THE FIRST LOCKDOWN, MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH PAUL ROUMELIOTIS, WHEN ASKED ABOUT THE PERSONAL CARE SECTOR, SAID THAT IT WAS SUGGESTED THAT IT WAS MORE SANITARY TO STAY HOME AND CUT YOUR HAIR WITH DOG CLIPPERS. AND IT'S A TESTAMENT TO THE LACK OF SOLIDARITY OR COMPASSION THAT THIS GOVERNMENT, MUNICIPALLY AND PROVINCIALLY, HAS FOR OUR SECTOR. THE CONTRIBUTION THAT HAIRDRESSERS AND PERSONAL CARE WORKERS HAVE GIVEN TO OUR COMMUNITIES SINCE THEIR INCEPTION IS VITAL. AND I CONSIDER IT AN INSULT. AND QUITE FRANKLY, I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THAT VIDEO. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE HIM GETTING HIS HAIR CUT BY HIS DAUGHTER WITH DOG CLIPPERS. IF THEY CHOOSE TO KEEP REFERENCING THE QUALITY OF AND CALIBRE OF WORK THAT COMES OUT OF OUR SECTOR IN THAT WAY, I'D LIKE TO SEE THE VIDEO.

Nam says DO YOU THINK THAT'S PART OF THE REASON WHY YOUR INDUSTRY HAS BEEN DISMISSED AS BEING NON-ESSENTIAL, BECAUSE PEOPLE JUST WRITE IT OFF AS, YOU KNOW, AS A VANITY?

Norm says I THINK THAT OUR NUMBERS AS A GROUP, AS AN ENTIRE SECTOR, ARE TOO BIG FOR THEM TO MONITOR. WE DON'T HAVE A GOVERNING BODY AT THIS POINT. THE ONTARIO COLLEGE OF TRADES IS WHO WE PAY OUR LICENSING DUES TO. AND THEY ARE AN UMBRELLA FOR A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT TRADES. LIKE CARPENTRY AND ELECTRICIANS. SO THE GUIDELINES ARE NON-SPECIFIC. WE HAVE NO ONE TO ANSWER TO. SO WHEN I WAS INVITED TO BECOME PART OF BEAUTY UNITED, I JUMPED ON BOARD WITH BOTH FEET BECAUSE WHEN THE INITIAL LOCKDOWN WAS FIRST ANNOUNCED, THE GOVERNMENT GAVE US GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW: SIGNAGE. WE'VE ALL BEEN ABLE TO PUT ALL THE PROPER PRECAUTIONS IN PLACE TO ENSURE OUR CLIENTS' SAFETY, AND THEY DON'T RECOGNIZE IT AS CREDIBLE, AND THEY GAVE IT TO US. SO WHEN PAOLA APPROACHED ME WITH THE NEW CERTIFICATIONS THAT WOULD GIVE US THE SAME INFECTION PREVENTION CONTROL AS DENTISTS HAVE, THAT IS ONE STEP IN GETTING US TO A TABLE WHERE WE'LL BE RESPECTED AND TAKEN MORE SERIOUSLY.

Nam says WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THE FINANCIAL TOLL, SHAWN. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PERSONAL TOLL? HOW DOES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO WHAT'S HAPPENED THIS PAST YEAR?

The caption changes to "Shawn Lewis. Bucky The Barber. Custom Cutz."

Shawn says THE PERSONAL TOLL? I WOULD SAY JUST A LOT OF STRESS, NOT KNOWING HOW YOUR BILLS ARE GOING TO GET PAID. THAT'S MY BIGGEST CONCERN IS HOW ARE MY BILLS GOING TO GET PAID, IS MY CREDIT GOING TO BE AFFECTED? MY BARBERS WERE THINKING ABOUT BUYING HOUSES THIS YEAR AND THAT'S DOWN THE DRAIN. ALL THE MONEY WE SAVED THE LAST YEAR THINKING ABOUT BUYING HOUSES, ESPECIALLY WITH THIS CRAZY HOUSE PRICING JUMPING UP, AND NOW WE'RE ALL DIPPING INTO OUR SAVINGS JUST TO PAY THE BILLS. THE GOVERNMENT, THE SAME THING AS THE FIRST LADY, I'VE BEEN WAITING SINCE JANUARY FOR MY CERB. I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR AT LEAST TWO MONTHS, THREE MONTHS NOW, FOR MY RENT SUBSIDY. EVERYTHING IS ON RETRO. SO, LIKE, THE BILLS ARE JUST PILING UP. IT'S RIDICULOUS. BECAUSE I DON'T SEE THE HELP. I DO NOT SEE THE HELP. IF I DIDN'T HAVE THIS MONEY... IF I DIDN'T HAVE THE MONEY IN MY BANK SAVING MONEY, I WOULD HAVE BEEN OUT. I WOULD HAVE BEEN TOTALLY OUT. I WOULD HAVE BEEN TOTALLY BROKE. I WOULD HAVE BEEN STRESSED. I WOULD HAVE BEEN BANKRUPT. I WOULD HAVE PROBABLY LOST MY CAR TOO. I DON'T SEE THE HELP IN THE GOVERNMENT. I DON'T SEE THE HELP. LIKE, THEY SAY IT'S THERE, BUT BEING RETRO... RETRO TO ME MEANS THEY'RE GOING TO PAY ME BACK. WHAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY UP FRONT? YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? THEY'RE TAKING 100 percent AWAY OF OUR INCOME AND THEY ASK US TO PAY 90 percent TO 60 percent. HOW DO YOU PAY ANY PERCENT WHEN YOU HAVE NO JOB?

Nam says I THINK ONE OF THE DIFFICULT THINGS, BECAUSE IN CERTAIN SECTORS, LIKE THE RESTAURANT SECTOR, THEY'VE BEEN ABLE TO PIVOT. AND I HOPE I NEVER USE "PIVOT." EVER AGAIN AFTER THIS PANDEMIC. BUT THEY'VE ADJUSTED TO DO DELIVERY. WITH YOUR SECTOR, THEY HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO. BUT I'M ALSO GUESSING THAT THERE ARE STILL PEOPLE GETTING THEIR HAIR DONE, RIGHT? THERE'S PROBABLY AN UNDERGROUND ECONOMY HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, IS THERE, SHAWN?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Shawn says THERE COULD BE PEOPLE OUT THERE CUTTING HAIR, BUT LIKE I SAY, IT WOULDN'T BE SAFE. IF YOU GO HOUSE TO HOUSE TO HOUSE TO HOUSE, IT WOULDN'T BE SAFE. IT WOULD PROBABLY BE SOMETHING PEOPLE WOULD DO. THEY DON'T WANT TO LOSE THEIR HOUSE AND CAR, THEY HAVE TO FEED THEIR KIDS. THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE, RIGHT? SO THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE YOU HAVE BARBERS OUT THERE, SALON PEOPLE OUT THERE, JUST TRYING TO MAKE SOME TYPE OF LIVING BECAUSE NO ONE IS REALLY HELPING. LIKE I SAID, THE RETRO IS LIKE IT'S KILLING ME. EVERY DAY YOU'RE CHECKING THE CRA, PENDING, PENDING, PENDING. YOU CALL THE CRA. THE CRA IS TELLING YOU YOU'VE GOT TO CALL VALIDATION, YOU HAVE TO CALL THESE PEOPLE, YOU'RE CALLING THESE PEOPLE AND NOBODY, NOTHING. THERE'S NO ANSWER FOR YOU. YOU'RE ASKING WHAT'S GOING ON? THEY'RE TELLING YOU THEY HAVE NO ANSWER FOR YOU. IT'S CRAZY. THE REASON WHY WE CHOSE THIS INDUSTRY IS BECAUSE WE LIKE THE INDEPENDENCE. WE LIKE TO BE ABLE TO MAKE OUR OWN MONEY. WE LIKE TO BE ABLE TO CONTROL OUR LIFE. AND RIGHT NOW IT'S LIKE... IT'S JUST NOT IN OUR HANDS RIGHT NOW AND IT'S JUST DISTURBING.

Nam says I THINK ANOTHER THING THAT YOUR INDUSTRY OFFERS IS COMMUNITY. PEOPLE GO TO THE BARBER, TO THEIR HAIR SALON, AND YOU DEVELOP A VERY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THOSE INDIVIDUALS. HAVE YOU SEEN... HAVE YOU HEARD FROM PEOPLE WITHIN THE COMMUNITY THAT ARE LACKING THAT CONNECTION AND WHAT'S HAPPENING AS A RESULT OF LACK OF THAT CONNECTION, SHAWN?

Shawn says YES. I'VE ACTUALLY... BEFORE THE LOCKDOWN, I WAS TALKING TO A POLICE OFFICER THAT GETS THEIR HAIR CUT HERE, A JUDGE. THEY'RE SAYING A LOT OF KIDS ARE COMMITTING SUICIDE. PEOPLE ARE STRESSED OUT TOTALLY. PEOPLE ARE MENTALLY GETTING SICK BECAUSE OF THIS. AND THIS IS THE COMMUNITY THAT WE CUT. PEOPLE ARE HURT. PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT. IT'S SAD, MAN. IT'S REALLY SAD. IT'S HURTING OUR CUSTOMERS. CUSTOMERS ARE GOING ALL OVER THE PLACE TRYING TO... IT'S NOT GOOD AT ALL, NAM. IT'S REALLY, REALLY BAD. BAD FOR THE COMMUNITY.

Nam says NORM, I MENTIONED, YOU KNOW, THAT RESTAURANTS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PIVOT AND DO ONLINE OR DO PATIO. BUT YOUR INDUSTRY DOESN'T REALLY HAVE THAT SAME KIND OF FLEXIBILITY. HOW HAVE SOME IN YOUR SECTOR ADAPTED TO THE LACK OF MONEY COMING IN?

Norm says ALL WE'RE DOING IS INCURRING DEBT AT THIS POINT AND HOPING THAT THERE WILL BE AN INFLUX OF CLIENTS WHEN WE ARE FINALLY ALLOWED TO OPEN. BUT WITH THE CASE NUMBERS THE WAY THEY ARE, THERE'S NO LIGHT AT THE END OF THIS TUNNEL. THIS TUNNEL IS GETTING DARKER. BECAUSE OF HOW VOCAL I'VE BEEN ON THIS, I RECEIVE A LOT OF MESSAGES FROM SALON OWNERS THAT HAVE BEEN... THEIR BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN IN THEIR FAMILIES FOR GENERATIONS. I SPOKE TO ONE GENTLEMAN THE OTHER DAY THAT HAS A SALON IN VAUGHAN THAT'S BEEN OPEN FOR 50 YEARS, AND HE IS NOW BEING FORCED TO CLOSE. THESE PEOPLE HAVE NOWHERE TO TURN AND THEY FEEL LIKE THEY'VE BEEN COMPLETELY ABANDONED.

Nam says THAT MUST BE A VERY DESPERATE FEELING.

Norm says IT'S NOT UNCOMMON. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE CONVERSATIONS I'VE HAD WITH EVERYBODY, WHAT SHAWN WAS MENTIONING, EVERYBODY CAN TELL YOU A STORY ABOUT THE RENT SUBSIDY THAT... NOBODY HAS RECEIVED ANYTHING FOR SIX MONTHS. PEOPLE THAT WERE AWARDED THE 20,000 dollar GRANT DURING THE FIRST LOCKDOWN STILL HAVEN'T RECEIVED IT. SO GOING IN AND HAVING A PRESS CONFERENCE ABOUT HOW THEY'RE AVAILABLE AND ALL THESE FACILITIES AND ALL THESE OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE, THEY'RE JUST NOT MATERIALIZING. AND THAT NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT TO THE LIGHT. YOU KNOW, WE ARE ALL... THE ONE COMMON DENOMINATOR WITH EVERY CONVERSATION I'VE HAD WITH PEOPLE IS, WHILE WE ALL ADHERE TO THE STRICT RESTRICTIONS AND WE'RE TRYING TO STAY HOME AND MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE NOT THE REASON FOR THE SPREAD OF THIS VIRUS, THEN WE LOOK AT THE PRESS CONFERENCES THAT SHOW THE DECISION-MAKING FROM OUR MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT ESPECIALLY. THIS TIME LAST YEAR, TORY ANNOUNCED THE EMERGENCY CLOSURE OF HIGH PARK AND THE BANNING OF ANY SELFIES AT THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS. NOW, OUR CASE NUMBERS ON THAT PRESS CONFERENCE A YEAR AGO WERE 1768. YESTERDAY MORNING, OUR CASE NUMBERS WERE 4750, AND HE OPENED HIGH PARK AND SAID, "PROCEED WITH CAUTION." BUSINESSES ARE BEING FORCED TO CLOSE AT THIS POINT, ARE LOOKING AT THEMSELVES GOING: HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE AND HOW DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE?

Nam says ISABELLA?

Isabella says I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH THAT. IT'S HONESTLY JUST SO DISHEARTENING TO SEE THAT WE'VE BEEN CONTINUOUSLY LEFT IN THE DUST. LIKE, WE ARE PROACTIVE IN WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO TO GET OURSELVES AND OUR CLIENTS BACK TO OUR BUSINESSES SAFELY. WE'VE IMPLEMENTED EVERY SAFETY PROCEDURE THEY'VE ASKED. WE'VE BEEN GOVERNED BY OUR HEALTH UNIT AND FOLLOWING THEIR GUIDELINES. SO IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE TO US THAT WE'RE THE ONES THAT ARE CONTINUOUSLY LEFT BEHIND IN THESE DECISION-MAKING. MEANWHILE, WE ARE DOING THE BEST THAT WE CAN. I HAD A FRIEND, FOR EXAMPLE, HER NAME IS MEG, SHE OWNS INK FACTORY IN TOWN. AND HER PARTNER ENDED UP TAKING A LAYOFF WHEN WE WERE ALLOWED IN THAT FOUR-DAY TIME PERIOD THAT THEY SAID THAT WE COULD REOPEN. MEANWHILE, THEY TURNED AROUND AND CLOSED US BACK DOWN AGAIN. AND NOW THEY'RE BOTH OUT OF WORK. SO IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE TO ME THAT THEY'RE SAYING ALL OF THESE THINGS. THEY ARE ALL PROMISES AT THE END OF THE DAY AND WE'RE ALL LOSING EVERYTHING THAT WE HAVE FOR NO REASON. WE HAVEN'T EVEN BEEN GIVEN A CHANCE AT THIS POINT.

Nam says THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF BACK AND FORTH. I MEAN, THIS PAST WEEK YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO ESSENTIALLY BE OPEN UNTIL THE CASES WENT UP AGAIN AND THEN WE WENT INTO ANOTHER STAY-AT-HOME ORDER. IF YOU COULD, I'M ASSUMING ANYONE... IF SOMEONE FROM THE GOVERNMENT IS WATCHING THIS, ISABELLA, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY TO THOSE PEOPLE THAT ARE MAKING THE DECISIONS?

Isabella says I'D JUST LIKE FOR THEM TO JUST TAKE A LOOK AND SEE, LIKE, WHAT THE CASES ARE IN EACH REGION. LIKE, I CAN DEFINITELY SEE IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO, MAYBE IT'S JUST BECAUSE OF THE POPULATION DENSITY AND THE FACT THAT ALL OF THESE OTHER BIG INDUSTRIES AREN'T FOLLOWING THE REGULATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN GIVEN OUT, THAT MAYBE THERE'S A LITTLE BIT OF A BOOM IN THE CASES THERE. BUT UP IN NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO, WE'RE DOWN UNDER 100 ACTIVE CASES IN OUR CITY. THERE'S A NEIGHBOURING COMMUNITY, FORT FRANCIS. THEY HAD ONE ACTIVE CASE TWO WEEKS AGO, AND THEY ARE NOW PUT INTO A GRAY LOCKDOWN. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE HOW THEY'RE MAKING THESE DECISIONS AND HOW THEY'RE JUST KIND OF LUMPING EVERYTHING INTO A COMPLETE LOCKDOWN AND THAT WE HAVEN'T EVEN BEEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO KIND OF PROVE OURSELVES AND SHOW THAT WE ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. WHEN EVERYONE ELSE WAS ALLOWED TO OPEN AT 25 percent CAPACITY, WHY WERE WE NOT INCLUDED IN THAT?

Nam says IF YOU WERE TOLD THAT YOU COULD OPEN TOMORROW, WOULD THAT HELP?

Isabella says IT WOULD START TO HELP. BUT AT THIS POINT, UNFORTUNATELY, THE DAMAGE IS DONE. IT'S GOING TO TAKE YEARS TO FINANCIALLY RECOVER FROM THIS. IT'S GOING TO TAKE A LIFETIME TO MENTALLY RECOVER FROM THIS. IT'S GOING TO TAKE A REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LONG TIME TO FIGURE THIS OUT AND TO GET BACK ON OUR FEET.

Nam says PAOLA, IN THE CLIP THAT WE SHOWED EARLIER, PREMIER FORD SAID THAT HIS HEART GOES OUT TO YOUR SECTOR AND THAT HE WOULD LIKE TO GET YOU OPEN BACK UP. YESTERDAY YOU WERE SCHEDULED TO MEET WITH A REPRESENTATIVE FROM MINISTER VIC FEDELI'S OFFICE. HOW DID THAT MEETING GO?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."
Then, it changes again to "Rebuilding trust."

Paola says WE DID MEET WITH ONE OF THE STAKEHOLDERS FROM HIS OFFICE AND ACTUALLY THE MEETING WENT EXTREMELY WELL. THAT OFFICE IN PARTICULAR, AND IN PARTICULAR MINISTER ZACARIA, THEY'VE BEEN LISTENING, THEY'VE COME TO VISIT IN PERSON TO REALLY UNDERSTAND OUR... WHAT WE'VE DONE, SO IN TERMS OF, LIKE, ADDING BARRIERS AND IN SOME SALONS AND SPAS, THERE'S MASSAGE THERAPY AND AESTHETICS. AND MASSAGE THERAPY IS OPEN, USING THE SAME DOOR, THE SAME PROTOCOL AS WE WOULD HAVE WITH BEAUTY. AND SO THE MEETING WENT WELL. WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO. WE'VE OBVIOUSLY GIVEN THEM THE PLAN FOR OUR REOPEN, AND WE ARE SEEKING RECOVERY MONEY FOR OUR SECTOR. AND I ECHO WHAT THE OTHERS HAVE SAID HERE. UNFORTUNATELY, THE SUPPORT, WHILE WE'RE GRATEFUL FOR THEM, THEY'RE SLOW, THEY'RE BACK-DATED. FOR EXAMPLE, APRIL RENT, YOU CAN'T EVEN APPLY FOR UNTIL MAY. AND I'M STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY WE'RE PAYING THE LANDLORDS WHEN WE'RE CLOSED. IT'S JUST SO BIZARRE TO ME THAT WE... YOU KNOW, THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS GIVEN THEM 100 percent OF THEIR INCOME, AND WE HAVE LOST EVERYTHING. IT'S VERY FRUSTRATING FOR US AS A GROUP, AND I THINK THAT THERE NEEDS TO BE A LOT OF MODIFICATION. LOOK, THE GOVERNMENT HAS TRIED TO DO THEIR BEST TO GET AS MUCH MONEY OUT TO A NUMBER OF PEOPLE EARLY ON. WE JUST NEED TO... WE NEED TO BE TREATED FAIRLY. AND I'M REALLY HOPING THAT PUBLIC HEALTH AND ALL OF THE DECISION-MAKERS ARE WATCHING THIS. WE ARE GOING TO HOLD YOU TO YOUR WORD. WE NEED A MEETING IMMEDIATELY. WE ARE A SECTOR THAT HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN, AND WE NEED IMMEDIATE HELP. WE ARE IMPORTANT, AND OUR LIVES ARE IMPORTANT.

Nam says SHAWN, I SAW YOU NODDING YOUR HEAD WHEN PAOLA WAS TALKING.

Shawn says YEAH. I JUST THINK THEY NEED TO COME UP WITH A BETTER STRATEGY. I JUST DON'T SEE... I DON'T SEE THE STRATEGY IN WHAT THEY'RE DOING. THEY'RE LOCKING DOWN. THE NUMBERS STILL GO UP. THEY OPEN UP. THE NUMBERS STILL GO UP. LIKE, I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE STRATEGY. JUST LIKE SHE SAID, WE'RE PAYING RENT TO OUR LANDLORDS. WE'RE PAYING RENT TO ENBRIDGE. WE'RE PAYING OUR GAS, LIGHT. WE'RE PAYING ALL THESE BILLS. AND LIKE I SAID, WE'RE IN THE RED ZONE AND WE'RE IN RETRO AND WE'RE NOT BEING PAID BACK BY THE GOVERNMENT. THEY'RE THE SAME PEOPLE THAT TOLD US TO LOCK DOWN 100 percent, LOCK YOUR STORE DOWN, YOU'RE NOT MAKING ANY MONEY, AND THEN THEY DON'T HELP US OUT. IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE. BECAUSE NOT EVERYBODY HAS... ESPECIALLY THE PEOPLE DOWNTOWN. LIKE, IMAGINE PAYING 10,000 dollars RENT EVERY SINGLE MONTH AND YOU'VE BEEN LOCKED DOWN FOR SEVEN MONTHS AND YOU OWE 70,000 dollars IN RENT AND YOU ALSO OWE GAS BILLS AND YOU ALSO OWE THIS BILL AND HOUSE BILLS, IF YOU HAVE KIDS. IT'S ENOUGH TO MAKE SOMEBODY GO CRAZY, AND IT'S NOT FAIR AND IT'S NOT NICE. AND YOU WOULD NEVER EXPECT THAT FROM YOUR GOVERNMENT. AND ESPECIALLY WITH FORD SAYING HOW HE CARES. I DON'T KNOW... I DON'T KNOW, MAN. I DON'T SEE THE CARE IN THAT. AND IF HE DOES CARE, HOPEFULLY WE DO SEE SOMETHING IMMEDIATELY. HOPEFULLY HE SEES US TALKING ABOUT THIS TODAY AND HE UNDERSTANDS THAT WE ARE PEOPLE AND WE'RE STRUGGLING OUT HERE AND IT'S NOT FAIR BECAUSE WE ARE THE COMMUNITY. WE KEEP THE COMMUNITY HAPPY. AND EVERYTHING THAT WE DO IS FOR THE COMMUNITY. SO I DON'T GET IT. LIKE, I DON'T GET WHY WE'D BE TREATED LIKE THIS. AND IT'S JUST NOT FAIR.

Nam says WE ONLY HAVE A FEW MINUTES, BUT SOME PEOPLE SAY NUMBERS TALK. AND I JUST FOUND THIS FROM REFINERY 29. AS OF MARCH 13TH, STATISTICS CANADA REPORTED THAT THE PERSONAL CARE INDUSTRY, YOUR INDUSTRY, HAD BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR 47 OUTBREAKS AND 401 CASES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC. IT WAS ACTUALLY THE LOWEST RATE AMONGST SIMILAR BUSINESSES. FOR REFERENCE, FOOD AND RETAIL STORES HAVE ACCOUNTED FOR 634 OUTBREAKS AND 2,161 CASES. SO, NORM, WHEN YOU DO HEAR THAT, IT SEEMS TO BE KIND OF QUESTIONS AROUND HOW THOSE DECISIONS ARE MADE, AND GIVEN THAT INFECTION RATES ACROSS THE PROVINCE AND THE COUNTRY ARE GOING UP AND NO SIGN YET OF DROPPING, IF YOU WERE IN GOVERNMENT WITH LIVES STILL AT RISK TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO TWEAK THE POLICY SO THAT WE CAN ALL STAY SAFE?

Norm says I WOULD USE LOGIC AND FACT AND THE DATA THAT THEY HAVE, AND I WOULD CLOSE DOWN THE BUSINESSES THAT ARE BEING... THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. INSTEAD OF MAKING US THE CULPRIT IN THIS. WE'VE BEEN ASKED TO INCUR A YEAR-LONG DEBT, AND WE'RE IN DANGER OF DISAPPEARING FOREVER. AND SO INSTEAD OF SATISFYING THE PUBLIC'S THIRST FOR A CULPRIT IN ALL THIS AND MAKING IT US, LET'S STOP REWARDING COMPANIES THAT AREN'T FOLLOWING RESTRICTIONS AND LETTING THEM RECORD RECORD EARNINGS EVERY MONTH. AND LET'S GET TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM AND STOP THIS BEFORE IT GETS COMPLETELY OUT OF HAND. THERE ARE PROJECTIONS FOR MAY OF 12,000 CASES A DAY. WE'VE BEEN CLOSED SINCE THESE THINGS WERE UNDER 800. WE'RE NOT THE REASON FOR THIS.

Nam says AND PAOLA, I'LL GIVE YOU THE LAST 30 SECONDS.

Paola says WELL, I THINK I WOULD LISTEN TO THE DOCTORS AND REALLY TARGET WHERE THE SOURCE OF THE SPREAD IS. THEY'VE KNOWN, BECAUSE THEY DO HAVE THE DATA. AND TO SUPPORT ANGELA. IF THERE ARE REALLY THAT MANY CASES UP THERE, YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THIS A LITTLE BIT MORE REGIONALLY. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, I WOULD LIKE THEM TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE FACT THAT WE'VE SACRIFICED OUR BUSINESSES FOR A YEAR FOR THIS CAUSE, TO HELP THE COMMUNITY, TO HELP COVID, TO HELP ALL OF THIS, AND WE NEED A MEETING. WE NEED IMMEDIATE RELIEF. WE NEED THEM TO RESPOND AND TO MAKE US IMPORTANT. WE ARE IMPORTANT, NOT JUST TO OUR OWN LIVES, BUT WE DO, LIKE SHAWN SAID, SUPPORT THE COMMUNITY, AND EVERYONE LOVES THEIR BARBER OR THEIR HAIRDRESSER OR THEIR ESTHETICIAN AND, YOU KNOW, THEIR BODY ART PROFESSIONAL. WE REPRESENT ALL OF THEM. AND WE WANT TO BE TREATED FAIRLY. PREMIER FORD, WE WANT TO BE TREATED FAIRLY.

The caption changes to "Produced by: Liane Kotler, @LianeKotler."

Nam says THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL OF YOUR TIME TONIGHT. WE REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR INSIGHT. AND WE WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

The guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: COVID-19's Forgotten Industry: Personal Care