CFIB statement on Ontario’s business reopening plan


Toronto, February 8, 2021—The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) sees today’s reopening plan in Ontario as a small, positive step, but notes that thousands of small businesses will remain in full lockdown even after February 22, 2021. 

Small retailers will breathe a sigh of relief as Ontario will soon allow all retail businesses to reopen to in-person sales in the next few weeks, including at 25 per cent of capacity in grey zones. This will finally end the bizarre and ineffective Ontario-only policy of allowing big box stores to sell in-person while barring small firms from doing the same. Retailers across the province will have been closed for at least 108 days since the Spring 2020 lockdowns began (33 per cent of the pandemic) as of next week. By the time they reopen, those in Toronto and Peel will have been closed for 147 days (44 per cent).

For many businesses, particularly in Toronto, Peel and York, today’s announcement will mean that they will move from a province-wide lockdown to a regional lockdown on February 22, 2021. This is deeply unfair and will mean that in-person dining, personal services like hair and nail care, and gyms will remain in full lockdown with no end in sight. By February 22, personal care services in Toronto and Peel will have been closed for a total of 183 days since the Spring 2020 lockdowns began, or roughly 55 per cent of the pandemic. Gyms and indoor dining in Toronto and Peel will have been closed for 220 days (66 per cent of the pandemic). 

CFIB will continue to advocate for a safe pathway for all small firms to reopen to in-person sales. We strongly urge government to move the hard caps for sectors like gyms, salons, events and restaurants to a capacity limit or other measures that better reflect their work and space.

While reopening is a step forward, we aren’t out of the woods yet. While some businesses will soon be permitted to open, they will be reopening to capacity limits and government advice for consumers to stay home at a time when consumer activity is naturally lower, even in a good year. 

Seventy-five per cent of Ontario’s small businesses report that government programs are crucial to their survival in 2021. It is especially important for businesses to have broad access to government support programs. We continue to urge the government to expand the Ontario Small Business Support Grant eligibility criteria, and to broaden the $1,000 PPE program’s eligibility while increasing the PPE funding available to each applicant. As businesses reopen, it is crucial that they have the support they need to survive and to meet their health and safety obligations. 

-Dan Kelly, President
-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