CFIB Statement: Government must explain capacity decision to small business owners

October 12, 2021

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling for answers from the Ontario government after several small business sectors were left out of Friday’s capacity increase announcement.

Backlash among restaurants, gyms, dance studios, bowling alleys and other recreational fitness businesses has been swift as they continue to face capacity restrictions ranging from mandatory distancing to a 50% capacity limit, while major sports venues can pack fans in at 100%. Small business owners are left wondering how the Leafs and Sens can seat full capacity while a bowling alley can’t open more than half its lanes. 

Ontario government and public health officials must come forward and explain in detail why they’ve once again chosen to provide flexibility to some big businesses while keeping small businesses restricted. 

Facilities like gyms, yoga and dance studios, swimming and martial arts venues, and bowling alleys have been limited to a 50 per cent capacity since July 16, when they reopened after one of the longest lockdown periods in the world. Only 37 per cent of Ontario’s small businesses are at normal revenues and their average COVID-19-related debt is a whopping $190,000. All provincial support programs for these businesses have ended, and the most significant one – the Ontario Small Business Support Grant – stopped on April 7, a day before the third lockdown began.

CFIB urges the Ontario government to immediately level the playing field and increase small business capacity to 100 per cent. 

-Ryan Mallough, Senior Director of Provincial Affairs, Ontario
-Julie Kwiecinski, Director of Provincial Affairs, Ontario

For media inquiries or interviews, please contact:
Meriem Mezdour, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region, including 38,000 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