The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling on provincial governments across Canada for lockdown alternatives and increased financial support for small businesses as provinces announce or consider a third round of closures across the country.
“It is unconscionable that over a year into the pandemic governments continue to rely almost exclusively on blanket lockdowns,” said CFIB President Dan Kelly. “The first two shutdowns were devastating with one in six businesses considering permanent closure, for an estimated 74,000 permanent small business closures expected in Ontario. A third round will only ensure that number grows higher. CFIB urges governments to now make use of the other tools at their disposal, including making widespread use rapids, as well as renewed contact tracing efforts and expedited vaccine rollouts as alternatives to closing battered small businesses.”
A recent CFIB survey found that two thirds of small businesses would consider using COVID-19 rapid tests to remain open.
“Small businesses are tired of being a scapegoat for the Ontario government’s lack of planning or foresight. For months, they have been told that there is light and the end of the tunnel or a new announcement that’s a ‘game changer’, and for months nothing has changed,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB director of provincial affairs for Ontario. “Toronto and Peel have been largely shut down since November while cases have climbed and fallen and climbed again in that timeframe with thousands of small businesses never seeing a single customer. To continue the same broken approach is a choice. A choice that is costing thousands of Ontarians their jobs and livelihoods. We have to do better.”
It is also deeply concerning that governments across the country have closed their grant applications this week as new lockdowns loom. On average, Ontario small businesses have taken on $207,000 in COVID-19-related debt. Three quarters reports that it will take more than a year to pay off.
“More than 70 per cent of small businesses across Canada report that government supports are essential to their survival,” added Kelly. “Lockdowns do not stop bills from coming in. We urge governments to extend their application deadlines, broaden eligibility and increase payments to recognize the impact new and prolonged lockdowns and restrictions are having on local businesses.”