Two-thirds of Ontario small businesses say the province’s reopening plan is too slow

Toronto, June 8, 2021 – Ontario’s slow pace of reopening is driving the province further behind the rest of the country, according to the latest data on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard. Two thirds of Ontario business owners say reopening is not happening fast enough, compared to only one-third of businesses in BC and 23 per cent in Quebec.

“Ontario businesses are incredibly frustrated as they have had little or no opportunity to make sales, while the rest of the country is reopening much faster,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “At this rate, many provinces will be back to normal business operations before Ontarians can even get a haircut. We need to pick up the pace now, or many businesses won’t even make it to reopening.”

% fully open 73 71 79 53 44 79 79 52 74 58
% who say reopening is too slow in their province 33 46 27 54 66 23 27 32 14 50

*PEI not included due to smaller sample size.

“Yesterday’s announcement that Step 1 of Ontario’s reopening plan will start Friday was much-needed good news for restaurants and retailers, but gyms, hair salons, barbers, stores located in malls without a street-facing entrance and many others remain closed,” added Kelly. “Most of these low-risk business activities have been open for weeks or months in other provinces, or, like retail in BC, never closed at all during the pandemic.”

CFIB is urging the Ontario government to:

  • Add hair salons, barbers and other personal care services to the reopening list for this Friday. 
  • Add some capacity for gyms, fitness, and dance studios this weekend.
  • Add limited capacity this Friday for indoor dining as is in place in most provinces.
  • Immediately provide retailers in malls with no street-facing entrance with an option for in-person sales.
  • Shorten the three-week interval between further rounds of reopening and bring in a new, faster plan that is more in line with other provinces. 
  • Immediately add a third round of Ontario Small Business Support Grant funding to help those facing ongoing restrictions as they reopen.
  • Resurrect the PPE grant at a greater amount to help businesses with the potentially high cost of safe reopening. 

“The level of anger and despair we’re hearing from business owners is alarming. They are watching their life’s work crumble due to the province’s inaction. The Ontario government needs to let more businesses reopen more quickly, so they can catch up to their counterparts in the rest of the country,” concluded Kelly.
For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

Source for CFIB data
Preliminary results for Your Voice – June 2021 survey. The online survey started June 3, 2021, n = 2,989. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of +/-1.8%, 19 times out of 20.

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