Toronto, May 20, 2021 – Ontario’s reopening plan reads more like a plan to ensure the province is the last jurisdiction in the continent to allow even a trickle of business activity to resume. Yet again, the province is adding another two weeks to North America’s longest and deepest lockdowns. This is not the glimmer of hope that many small businesses were desperate to see.
CFIB is deeply disappointed that there isn’t an immediate reopening of low-risk business activities, like shopping at small retailers, visiting hair and nail salons, gyms, and patio dining at restaurants. These businesses will have to wait until at least mid-June, with several weeks and months before other indoor business activities can resume.
We were hoping for a more comprehensive plan that would allow businesses to better plan for reopening. After being closed for so long, businesses deserve to know exactly when it’s their time to finally reopen to customers and plan for rehiring employees, cleaning and sanitizing the premises, acquiring inventory, and other reopening activities. Indoor dining and gyms have been closed in Toronto for over 340 days in total since the pandemic started.
Small businesses cannot bear ongoing lockdowns. Going forward, the Ontario government should allow them to be open to in-store customers by replacing lockdowns with rapid testing and expanding availability to all businesses. Current rapid testing programs are focused on keeping essential businesses open, rather than also letting shuttered businesses reopen.
A reopening plan is only step one in an economic recovery. Ontario’s small businesses are only at 27 per cent of normal revenues, so they’ll need provincial and federal relief programs for the foreseeable future to help them survive. Many business owners have invested their personal life savings in their business’s survival, but that personal well has now run dry, and government programs are drying up, too. Resurrecting the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and expanding it to all affected businesses should also be part of the province’s plan for reopening and recovery.
-Dan Kelly, President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
-Julie Kwiecinski, Director of Provincial Affairs for Ontario
For media inquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, 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 cfib.ca.