CAEM Advocacy Timeline
Faced with the complete shutdown of the exhibition sector in the Spring 2020, the Canadian Association of Exposition Management reacted quickly and decisively, shifting its focus and priorities entirely to advocate on behalf of its members and for the future of the exhibition industry. Since that time, CAEM has worked tirelessly to raise our industry’s voice with government and put our industry on the map with policy-makers and decision-makers in every corner of the country. Under CAEM’s leadership, our industry has united like never before, and together we have succeeded on many fronts.
Here you will find a comprehensive timeline detailing CAEM's advocacy efforts and successes to date:
CAEM forms the Exposition Recovery Task Force to advocate for the reopening of exhibitions.
CAEM’s task force creates and publishes CAEM’s Safe Reopening Guidelines, with professional oversight from Infection Prevention and Control Canada. CAEM sends this document, along with a position letter, to each of the provinces and activates a grassroots letter writing campaign to socialize our reopening message with MPPs across the country. Over 500 letters were sent by industry stakeholders in June / July.
CAEM starts to collaborate with like-minded associations, including Convention Centres of Canada, Meetings Mean Business Canada, Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO). CAEM’s Executive Director is an active member of the Board of MMBC.
CAEM’s task force splits off into regional groups to advocate provincially for our sector’s reopening.
The detailed timeline of CAEM's advocacy efforts from June 2020 to present can be explored by clicking on the tabs below
Faced with the prolonged shutdown of our industry, CAEM decides to add sector-specific funding to our advocacy priorities, retaining the services of public affairs firm Crestview Strategy to assist with this work.
CAEM joins the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses to advocate for an extension to CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy). A few days after the coalition launches, the government announces an extension to CEWS through to summer 2021. They also announce the creation of CERS (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy).
With the help of Crestview Strategy, CAEM undertakes an industry-wide economic impact survey to quantify and qualify the impacts of COVID-19. Over 600 surveys are completed.
Crestview Strategy presents a 4-step federal engagement plan to advocate for sector-specific funding and walks members through this outreach plan at CAEM’s Power Education Day.
CAEM’s federal funding ask is finalized by Crestview Strategy. This document outlines the urgent and immediate need for targeted support. It also illustrates the positive economic impact exhibitions have on local economies and how they can contribute to recovery. CAEM’s key asks include extensions of CEWS and CERS to June 2022 and the creation of a forgivable sector-specific funding program.
CAEM starts socializing our federal funding ask with various departments and Parliamentary Secretaries, including a submission to the Federal Minister of Finance as part of the 2021 budget process.
CAEM activates an industry-wide push politics letter writing campaign, to socialize our federal funding ask to MPs across the country. Throughout the spring months over 400 letters are sent and CAEM holds over 70 meetings with Federal Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Secretaries, and high-level policy makers in Economic Development, Small Business, Finance, Labour and more.
CAEM’s letter writing campaign continues to generate meetings with various MPs across the country, including a pivotal meeting with MP Brad Vis that results in the presentation of a petition in the House of Commons, highlighting CAEM’s recovery and funding asks.
The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses recognizes CAEM’s advocacy work and invited CAEM to join the steering committee.
The election is called, and the Liberals first campaign announcement is a promise to introduce a temporary wage and rent subsidy for the hardest hit sectors, experiencing a minimum of 40% revenue loss. This announcement aligns directly with CAEM’s sector-specific funding asks, as well as the asks of the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses.
CAEM starts to work directly with Beth Potter, Co-Chair of the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses and President of TIAC to ensure all exhibition stakeholders are included in this proposed funding stream.
During the federal election campaign, CAEM distributes an updated funding brief and survey to every candidate in every political party and riding across Canada to gauge their willingness to champion the need for more relief for the exhibition industry.
The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses activates a letter writing campaign to amplify the industry’s ask for extensions to CEWS and CERS. CAEM is actively involved in this initiative and promotes the campaign to members.
Following the Federal Election, CAEM turned its attention toward ensuring our sector is included in the promised fixed cost relief program for hardest hit businesses. This includes updating our briefing note and sending it to all elected MPs and Ministerial staff, as well as continuing our work on the Steering Committee of the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses.
The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses activates another industry-wide letter writing campaign to ensure the Liberal campaign promise of a fixed cost relief program for hardest hit businesses comes to fruition. CAEM promotes the letter writing campaign to our members.
CAEM continues to work behind the scenes with Beth Potter (Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses Co-Chair and TIAC President) on the design of the relief program and the inclusion of all exhibition industry stakeholders.
The Liberal Government officially announces targeted support measures for businesses continuing to face significant pandemic-related challenges, including a new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and a new Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program, from October 24, 2021, to May 7, 2022. This is a very big win for the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses, as well as CAEM. Sector-specific funding, through an extension of CEWS and CERS has been our top ask in our many meetings with government in the spring / summer of 2021.
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, tables Bill C-2, An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19 in the House of Commons which includes the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP), and the Hardest- Hit Business Recovery Program. Trade shows and consumer shows are specifically listed in the eligibility criteria for THRP – a significant turning point in CAEM’s federal advocacy campaign.
The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses turns its attention toward advocating for the swift passing of Bill C-2, including an outreach to opposition leaders to express how important this legislation is to tourism businesses. They also activate another grassroots letter writing campaign that CAEM promotes to our members.
Bill C-2, including the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) is passed. The eligibility criteria specifically incudes companies involved in the organizing, planning, promoting, hosting, or supporting of conventions, trade shows or festivals.
Applications open for the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP). CAEM continues to actively promote this program to our members and gather feedback on the application process and funding approval, to identify any shortcomings/challenges to bring forward to the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses.
CAEM met with Riley Schnurr, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance to further solidify the key role trade and consumer shows play in the tourism economy and demonstrate the need for extensions to the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program.
As CAEM hears more and more about labour shortage issues from members, a meeting was held with the Federal Ministry of Labour to discuss the challenges faced by the trade and consumer show secotr in this regard.
The Alberta regional task force begins to engage directly with the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. The Ministry agree to present CAEM’s Safe Reopening Guidelines to public health.
As a direct result of the advocacy work led by CAEM and the regional task force, Alberta announces that indoor trade shows can officially reopen, with specific health and safety measures informed by CAEM’s guidelines. A limited number of shows run in the late summer and early fall.
The Alberta task force reconvenes to strategize on re-engaging with public health following the announcement of new temporary restrictions on trade shows. A position letter is sent to Dr. Hinshaw and Chris Shandro (ED at AB Health), re-iterating our sector’s ability and commitment to safety.
The Alberta task force continues to meet regularly throughout the spring to support Greg Newton and Arlindo Gomes in their efforts as members of a new working group formed by the Ministry of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation, tasked with coordinating Alberta ‘s Recovery Plan.
After 15 months of advocating for exhibitions to be recognized for their commercial nature, Alberta makes this distinction, paving the way for shows to reopen in a manner similar to retail stores and malls.
Alberta introduces the Restrictions Exemption Program which mandates that if businesses implement a proof of vaccine protocol they can operate as usual.
In response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant 50% capacity restrictions are re-introduced in AB for meeting and event spaces, including trade shows and consumer shows.
On February 8th, Alberta ended the restrictions Exemption Program which meant proof of vaccination was not longer required to access public spaces, including trade and consumer shows. Capacity limits remain at 50% for event spaces. Effective February 13th, masks will not be required for children aged 12 and under. The province plans to lift the mask mandate for all settings and remove all capacity restrictions on March 1.
After receiving CAEM’s Safe Reopening Guidelines, WorkSafeBC contacts CAEM with specific recommendations to align our protocols with BC’s COVID-19 Safety Plan. CAEM makes the recommended changes and receives WorkSafeBC’s endorsement of our document.
August / September 2020
CAEM pens several letters to Dr. Bonnie Henry regarding the inconsistencies in reopening decisions, advocating for a reopening plan for exhibitions that mirrors malls, public markets, and famers’ markets.
Members from CAEM’s regional task force participate in discussions with the Province and Dr. Bonnie Henry’s office, to develop plans to execute “test events”, with the goal of reviewing the data and determining what is manageable, to establish a timeline toward increasing sizes of events.
The BC Event Management Committee (industry working group) holds its first meeting with the municipalities in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health areas. The objective is to align the industry and create leverage when communicating with the province on public health orders and future reopening discussions. CAEM is represented on this working group by CAEM Board Member Brad Styba.
CAEM’s President is invited to participate in consultative meetings with the government of British Columbia to ensure the voice of our industry is heard as reopening plans continue to roll-out.
BC announces that exhibitions can return to normal activity with a Communicable Disease Plan. All capacity limits are lifted from trade shows. The distinct call-out of trade shows in the re-opening plan is a testament to CAEM’s advocacy work.
CAEM is invited to start participating in BC’s COVID-19 Industry Engagement Table.
CAEM is invited to participate in consultations regarding the announced vaccine passport program. Several CAEM members who produce shows in BC participate in this meeting and through our discussions CAEM receives confirmation that the vaccine passport program applies to patrons of trade and consumer shows only – staff and exhibitors are exempt from the vaccine passport program.
In response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, 50% capacity restrictions are re-introduced in BC for meeting and event spaces, including trade shows and consumer shows.
CAEM continues to participate in regular meetings of the COVID-19 Industry Engagement Table where we receive advance notice on changes to public health orders and evolving restrictions / measures.
Effective February 16th capacity limits were lifted for organized events. Proof of vaccination, masks and COVID-19 Safety Plans remain in place. Measured will be re-evaluated by the Provincial Health Officer on March 15 and April 12.
MPP Anand responds to CAEM’s letter writing campaign and facilitates a meeting with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development where CAEM makes the case for our industry’s safe reopening.
CAEM connects with MHTSCI (Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries) and begins to advocate for a safe reopening path that mirrors malls, public markets, and big box retail.
Ontario announces that event spaces can have up to 50 guests per indoor meeting room. CAEM responds with a statement that indoor gatherings should be based on a percentage of total capacity.
CAEM secures a meeting with the offices of Premier Ford, Minister Fedeli, and Minister MacLeod. We present our percentage of capacity model and ask to be reopened in a manner similar to malls, based on our commercial nature. Unfortunately, all reopening discussions are put on pause due to the 2nd wave of COVID-19.
CAEM’s President is invited to co-chair a new MHSTCI working group – The Meeting and Event Spaces Working Group – with the goal of developing an updated sector reopening plan to present to public health.
The Meeting and Event Spaces Working Group submits to MHTSCI its updated reopening plan for meeting and event spaces, focused on a percentage of capacity model, rather than a hard cap limit.
CAEM’s President is invited to sit on the Gateway Cities Sub Committee of MHTSCI’s Tourism Economic Task Force. MHTSCI releases its report in June, recognizing trade shows as an important economic driver, and including a recommendation for a multi-year Conventions and Business Events Support Fund.
CAEM continues to work closely with TIAO on advocating for a percentage of capacity model. CAEM is invited to represent the industry in government meetings as part of TIAO’s Tourism Day at Queen’s Park.
When the Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant is announced, CAEM immediately writes to MHSTCI advocating for show producers to be eligible for this grant.
Ontario announces its Roadmap to Reopening. Trade shows and consumers shows are specifically called out in Step 3 of the plan – a milestone in CAEM’s advocacy work to build up our industry’s visibility.
CAEM secures a meeting with the Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. We discuss show producers being excluded from provincial grants and we request clarity on expected capacity limits for Step 3 and any other anticipated restrictions.
The Meeting and Event Spaces Working Group meets with MHTSCI and makes it clear that our industry needs details now on expected capacities and restrictions in Step 3, and beyond.
Ontario enters Step 3 of it’s Roadmap to Reopen. Meeting and event spaces, and conference and convention centres can reopen for indoor events at a 50% capacity or 1000 people, whichever is less.
CAEM reaches out to MEDJCT (Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade) and receives confirmation that the vaccine passport program and the 1,000-capacity limit apply to patrons only – staff and exhibitors are excluded. CAEM continues to advocate with MEDJCT for increased capacity limits.
Ontario announces a further easing of capacity limits to 50 per cent capacity or 10,000 people.
MHTSCI announces the Ontario Tourism Recovery Program. CAEM welcomes the eligibility of facilities, but immediately raised the issue with MHTSCI and MEDJCT that show producers are excluded, once again.
Ontario announces that it is allowing 100% capacity for meeting and event spaces, as long as physical distancing can be maintained. CAEM immediately joins TIAO to object to the fact some venues continue to be held to physical distancing requirements while others are not. A week later, Ontario announces all capacity limits, including physical distancing, are lifted in indoor settings with proof of vaccination.
In response to the Omicron variant, Ontario reintroduces capacity limits, beginning with 50% capacity on indoor spaces, followed by a complete shutdown of meeting and event spaces a few weeks later.
Ontario announced the Small Business Relief Grant for businesses impacted by the latest round of restrictions. While meeting and event spaces are included in the eligibility criteria, show producers are once again left out. CAEM reaches out to both MHTSCI and MEDJCT to ask for a swift revision to the eligibility criteria to ensure show producers are not left behind when this program opens in February.
Ontario announces a cautious reopening plan. Under this phased approach, meeting and event spaces may open at 50% capacity effective January 31st with capacity limits due to be lifted on February 21st. Enhanced proof of vaccination requirements, and other requirements will continue to apply. CAEM is encouraged to see that the 500-person cap on sporting arenas, concert venues and theatres does not currently apply to meeting and event spaces, and our capacity limits are currently aligned with those of retail establishments.
Ontario speeds up its reopening plan as the peak of the Omicron wave is reached. Effective February 17th, capacity limits are lifted in meeting and event spaces, convention centres and conference centres and the plan is to remove the proof of vaccination requirement on March 1st. The mask mandate remains in place.
Applications for the Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant opened. While CAEM was pleased that meeting and events spaces, as well as conference and convention centres, were eligible businesses in this program, CAEM continues to press the case with numerous Ontario government ministries that trade and consumer show producers and suppliers have also suffered significant economic losses due to the public health restrictions and justifiably need to be included in the eligibility criteria. This was addressed in CAEM’s Pre-Budget Submission to the Minister of Finance.
Participated in meetings with the Ontario Liberal Party’s Campaign Platform Committee to detail what the trade and consumer show industry has faced during the pandemic and to reinforce the fact that reopening does not mean recovery.
APEQ (Association des professionnels en exposition du Quebec) – CAEM’s “partner” association in Quebec – begins to communicate with the Ministry of Tourism regarding our Safe Reponing Guidelines.
Quebec announces indoor meetings of 50 people can resume. In response, APEQ begins communicating directly with INSPQ (Institut national de santé publique du Québec) to advocate for a reopening model based on density ratios and not a hard cap limit.
APEQ and CAEM meet with Minister of Tourism to continue advocating for more favourable capacity restrictions.
APEQ organizes a press conference to take our reopening message more public and to generate media attention and coverage. We receive decent media coverage but no real movement on our asks.
Quebec public health officially adopts CAEM’s Safe Reopening Guidelines with a 250-person cap / room.
After 15 months of advocating for exhibitions to be recognized as commercial operations, Quebec recognizes this distinction and allows exhibitions to reopen under the same conditions as retail establishments.
Through APEQ, CAEM receives confirmation that exhibitions are not required to implement the vaccine passport program in the province due our alignment with retail establishments.
In response to the Omicron variant, Quebec reintroduces capacity limits, beginning with 50% capacity on indoor spaces, followed by a complete shutdown of meeting and event spaces a few weeks later.
Trade and consumer shows are reopened at full capacity effective February 21. Trade and consumer shows continue to be subject to the same rules as retail establishments. The vaccine passport will be phased out beginning February 21, and will be lifted for all activities by March 14th.