Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) president Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling on everyone in Ontario to support local businesses during the province-wide COVID-19 lockdown that takes effect Boxing Day.
“These are the folks who don’t have big corporations to backstop them,” he said. “Big box retailers get government backing and can weather the storm, but local businesses are on their own. They’re part of who we are, and when we support them, we’re supporting ourselves.”
The provincial government’s lockdown announcement still allows small businesses to do curbside pickup and local restaurants can still do takeout and delivery, noted Thomas.
“These folks are the heart of our communities. Your kid might have a classmate who ends their day waiting in the kitchen of their parents’ restaurant, until they can fill that final order and close up.
“They’re grateful for every customer. They’re the kind of folks who supported the front-line heroes of my union during the spring lockdown. I’m sure OPSEU/SEFPO’s 170,000 members will be supporting local businesses during this new tough time. All Ontarians should join us.”
OPSEU first vice president Eduardo Almeida said the independent restaurants and small shops are what “give Ontario communities their unique identity. Many local shops are hanging on by a thread and it would be a tragedy if they went under due to circumstances beyond their control.
“It would be truly heartbreaking to see storefront after storefront boarded up because of this pandemic. That’s not the Ontario I want to live in. The folks who own these businesses are our friends and neighbours and we just can’t let them down. We must be there for them and it’s the best way we can truly show them that we’re all in this together.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), meanwhile described the government’s decision to extend and expand lockdowns as “another big hit in a long line of crushing blows to small business owners.”
“(The) announcement guarantees the demise of thousands upon thousands of Ontario’s small businesses,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly, CFIB president. “The government should have used this as an opportunity to fine-tune existing restrictions based on the data, instead of expanding this blunt measure to additional regions of the province. Workers are going to lose their jobs. Business owners and their families will see their dreams crushed and their homes lost to the banks.”