CFIB statement on 100 straight days of winter lockdowns

Toronto, March 3, 2021—Today marks a grim milestone for Toronto and Peel region small businesses: 100 consecutive days in COVID-19 winter lockdowns—the longest in North America.

What was supposed to be only a couple of weeks has now extended into a fourth month. As each deadline has come and gone, officials have told small business owners to hang on just a little bit longer, only to have the football pulled away at the last minute each time. 

Small business owners have had enough. There is no more runway. Every additional day of lockdown increases the odds that we will lose even more local businesses for good. The Ontario government must recommit to reopening Toronto and Peel businesses, and this time, it must move forward. Municipal and local authorities need to support this direction too, as a growing number of Peel region mayors have done. 

In a recent CFIB survey, 30 per cent of Ontario small businesses reported they are worried about having to close permanently. Every business that shutters its doors forever is another blow to Ontario’s recovery.

Cumulative number of days small businesses have been closed, by sector and region

Sector Spring Lockdown Current Lockdown1 Total Days Closed
  Toronto Peel Toronto Peel Toronto Peel
Retail 56 56 100 100 156 156
Restaurants (indoor dining) 129 129 1422 100 271 229
Hair Salons/Barbers 92 92 100 100 192 192
Gyms 129 129 1353 1284 264 257
Big box stores with grocery 0 0 0 0 0 0

1 November 23, 2020 - March 3, 2021
2 Never reopened after October 10 “modified stage 2” order
3 Closed October 10-November 14 as part of “modified stage 2” order
4 Closed October 10-November 7 as part of “modified stage 2” order

Adding insult to injury, small retailers have been forced to watch their customers buy similar products at Walmart and Costco, which have been allowed to remain open to in-store shopping for the entire pandemic.

As businesses across the province struggle to recover and make up for lost sales, we implore the Ontario government to overhaul the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. The government designed this program for a pandemic that began on December 26, 2020, not one that started last March. Some business owners in Toronto and Peel region have been closed nearly 80 per cent of the time since the pandemic began. On average, Ontario small businesses have accumulated over $207,000 in COVID-19 related debt—one payment of $10,000-$20,000 clearly does not cut it.

The Ontario government committed to doing whatever it takes to help small businesses survive COVID-19, but has failed to include significantly impacted businesses in the grant—like construction and contractors, dry cleaners, caterers, craft brewers, regulated and unregulated health professionals, restaurant suppliers, travel agents, marketing and promotional agencies, and hotels, motels and B&Bs.

To ensure Ontarians have jobs to come back to, CFIB calls on the province to permanently replace lockdowns with other COVID measures in all regions, including rapid testing, screening and contact tracing while it immediately improves all the critical economic support programs for small business. 

-Dan Kelly, President & CEO
-Ryan Mallough, Director of Provincial Affairs, Ontario
-Julie Kwiecinski, Director of Provincial Affairs, Ontario

For media inquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region, including 42,000 in Ontario. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at