Business group slams new Ontario retail rule, others laud expanded COVID-19 tests

Sorry Closed Sign

TORONTO — The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has slammed new provincial lockdown rules in Ontario, saying they are unfair to small businesses.

For the 28 days beginning this Thursday, Ontario’s non-essential retail stores can only open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. — after provincial officials released models today suggesting that without new restrictions, daily COVID-19 deaths could double between now and the end of February.

But CFIB president Dan Kelly says new policies limiting opening hours risk further crowding at essential retailers like Walmart stores or Amazon warehouses instead.

Kelly says the policies are confusing for non-essential retailers, which are being told they can stay open with limited hours even as their customers are told that non-essential trips are banned altogether.

Kelly says his group, which represents 42,000 Ontario businesses, isn’t calling for stores to be wide open, but would like to see restrictions closer to those enacted by the New Democratic Party in British Columbia.

Other business groups had praise for Ontario’s new policies — with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters group applauding expanded COVID-19 testing and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association saying the new construction restrictions are necessary.