The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling for answers from the Ontario government after several small business sectors were left out of Friday’s capacity increase announcement.
Backlash among restaurants, gyms, dance studios, bowling alleys and other recreational fitness businesses has been swift as they continue to face capacity restrictions ranging from mandatory distancing to a 50% capacity limit, while major sports venues can pack fans in at 100%. Small business owners are left wondering how the Leafs and Sens can seat full capacity while a bowling alley can’t open more than half its lanes.
Ontario government and public health officials must come forward and explain in detail why they’ve once again chosen to provide flexibility to some big businesses while keeping small businesses restricted.
Facilities like gyms, yoga and dance studios, swimming and martial arts venues, and bowling alleys have been limited to a 50 per cent capacity since July 16, when they reopened after one of the longest lockdown periods in the world. Only 37 per cent of Ontario’s small businesses are at normal revenues and their average COVID-19-related debt is a whopping $190,000. All provincial support programs for these businesses have ended, and the most significant one – the Ontario Small Business Support Grant – stopped on April 7, a day before the third lockdown began.
CFIB urges the Ontario government to immediately level the playing field and increase small business capacity to 100 per cent.
-Ryan Mallough, Senior Director of Provincial Affairs, Ontario
-Julie Kwiecinski, Director of Provincial Affairs, Ontario