ontario lockdown

Toronto small businesses ask for help getting through latest Ontario lockdown

The latest round of lockdowns dealt another crushing blow to small retail businesses just barely hanging on after months of closures and many are asking for help.

Nearly 2,000 small- and medium-sized businesses across Toronto are asking the government for more support to get through the latest measures from the province aimed at fighting the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

Ontario reverted back to a modified version of Step 2 of reopening, which limits bars and restaurants to takeout and delivery, closes gyms and venues, and caps retail shop and salon capacity at 50 per cent, among other things.

Bloorcourt BIA, Chinatown BIA, Corktown Business and Residents Association, Little Portugal on Dundas BIA, Queen Street West, Riverside BIA, and West Queen West BIA, which collectively represent approximately 1,800 plus small- and medium-sized businesses and property owners in Toronto, sent an open letter to both the federal and provincial governments.

"On Monday, Jan. 3rd, we learned that significant restrictions for many business industries were being put in place by our provincial government with less than 48 hours notice," the letter reads. "Small- and medium-sized businesses remain the 'engine of the Canadian economy' and while they are instrumental, they remain equally as vulnerable and fragile during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond."

The businesses are asking for financial help and other measures to get through this latest stage of the pandemic.

"At this stage, we need financial measures more than ever to help us through the next six months as we have all been weathering through this pandemic for so long with little respite," one businesses owner said in the letter.

"Small- and medium-sized businesses have been kept afloat by federal financial support to date in this pandemic and these continue to be desperately needed through this current stage," the letter continues.

The businesses are asking for the following:

  • A third round of the Small Business Support Grant up to $20,000, a reinstatement of the wage subsidy for another six months, adequate CRB payments, reinstatement of the commercial rent subsidy for another six months. Also, for the government to provide financial supports in a timely manner to ensure businesses are able to remain solvent and re-open.
  • Access to Rapid Antigen Tests as businesses are having staffing issues due to illness and close contacts, and continue to operate under a requirement to report COVID cases.
  • Advanced notice of measures affecting businesses when orders are mandated to allow business operators, local and provincial enforcement agencies to sufficiently and responsibly react and avoid incurring additional closure costs.
  • Clear, data-driven and evidence-based rationale for closures of business industries should be made public so that it makes sense for all businesses.
Lead photo by

Karen Longwell

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