small business covid

Many local businesses in Toronto say they can't survive a few more months of forced closure

There is no arguing that the Toronto we emerge out into after the pandemic has subsided will be one that is irrevocably changed from weeks of social distancing and lockdown.

Though big chains may be able to sustain the financial blow of months of forced closure and a full-on economic recession, most smaller independents operating on tight profit margins as it is do not have a safety net to fall back on. And the data that's been coming from small restaurants and businesses is disheartening, to say the least.

And though the federal government has introduced helpful measures such as the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), many local establishments in Toronto say this will not be enough to save them from having to shutter for good.

Only 9 per cent of small businesses in some parts of the city are now saying they'll survive having to remain closed to the public indefinitely, according to a new survey conducted by the Broadview-Danforth BIA.

The survey, which polled 561 independent establishments and 137 landlords in the Danforth area, also showed that 17 per cent of businesses are on track to shut down permanently if they have to operate more than one more month in current circumstances. Twenty-one per cent said that they could potentially hold out another two months, and 23 per cent said they weather three more months.

In total, that's 61 per cent of Danforth businesses which feel that they will need to fold if the current economic environment under the health crisis persists for more than three months.

Paula Fletcher, the neighbourhood's city councillor has called for the provincial government to prevent landlords from locking Toronto business owners out if they default on rent, saying that "boarded up stores along the Danforth, Queen, Gerrard and Pape as well as commercial streets throughout Toronto" are on the horizon.

"Without action, it could take years for small businesses to recover," she said in a media release earlier this month.

And the problem isn't unique to the Danforth community or Toronto; other studies, like this one conducted by Restaurants Canada, show that 30 per cent of restaurants across the country will be forced to close their doors forever if the temporarily closure orders continue to the end of April with no additional economic help.

Though hopefully the funds provided via CECRA, which was only recently announced, will be of some help to those indies calling for rent relief, there are still already many reports of Toronto favourites that will not be reopening when the coronavirus situation in the city improves enough to go back to some form of life as usual.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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