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.
Results of a recent survey reveal that two-thirds of Ontario business owners say reopening is not happening fast enough, compared to only one-third of businesses in B.C. and 23% 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.
“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.”
Kelly added that “most of these low-risk business activities have been open for weeks or months in other provinces, or, like retail in B.C., never closed at all during the pandemic.”
CFIB said in a release it 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,” Kelly said. “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.”