March 17, 2020

Message to Landscape Ontario members
re: COVID-19

From: Dave Wright, LO President and Tony DiGiovanni, LO Executive Director

One of the most uplifting books we have ever read is Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. It is a story about Mr. Frankl’s life in a Nazi concentration camp. Why on earth would a story about the horrors of a concentration camp be uplifting? The answer is because it describes the powerful and profound nature of choice. No matter what the world throws at us, we always have the freedom to respond. We can practice courage in times of difficulty. We can choose to help others. We can make the choice to take positive and hopeful action. We can choose to find the learning and the opportunity in the situation. We can choose to practice empathy and realize that together we are better.   

This COVID-19 situation is unsettling. We were forced to cancel Canada Blooms just as the garden builders put the finishing touches on some awesome and creative gardens. It was so sad to see the pain and tears of those who worked 12-hour days through dust and diesel to create wonderful garden spaces.  
Most of our members are  worried about their families, employees, customers and businesses just as the season is starting. Garden Centre owners are wondering if there will be a complete ban on retail right in the middle of spring season. Growers are worried that the Mexican and Caribbean employees that come up every year will be caught in the travel ban. Contractors are wondering how they can support their employees if they are forced to downsize because of the economic impact of the virus. Everyone is worried that we are entering a period of depression or recession that will quickly contract the market. The largest issue facing our profession was the difficulty in finding employees. Now the fear is that our customers will delay their landscape projects because of economic uncertainty. On the other hand with no one travelling and everyone stuck at home, the garden will be much more important.  

It is good to know we have choices and actions we can take despite the dynamic nature of this COVID-19 issue. It is also good to know we are part of a horticultural community facing the same challenges together.  

In times like these, there are many conflicting and many times false messages in the media. It is important to get your information from credible sources. We suggest you take a break from the media once in a while. It is very easy to get overwhelmed. It is also important to talk about your fears to trusted friends. Problems tend to shrink a little when you share them. Please reach out to your peers to discuss the situation. Supporting each other is so important and helpful. 

We are relying on information from the Ontario Public Health website and Ontario Ministry of Health website I find the Ministry of Health site reassuring because it goes into detail about the number of tests and cases including location information.   

Here are some more helpful resources:   

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS), has developed a great tool to help business owners develop appropriate policies and procedures. You can find it here: 
  Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has developed a hotline where anyone can call in (member or not) with questions about the virus from the perspective of an employer. It is very helpful.  
  Recently the Government of Ontario announced it will be supporting laid off workers, those forced into quarantine and those who need to take care of their children and sick family. Here is the link: 
  Here is a link to the ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada): They are offering Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits for up to 15 weeks for those affected by the COVID-19 virus.  
As we go through these turbulent and unsettled times, it is good to know, we are part of a larger group of members who are all facing the same challenges and who are working diligently to find solutions.   

Your staff family at LO are taking precautions to keep everyone safe. Operations are continuing during this time however the staff is working remotely. They are available by phone, email and social media. Seminars have been cancelled. 

The LO family cares. The LO family has your back. We will get through this. If you have any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions please email