In Toronto, members of the Roncesvalles Village business association recently joined a campaign to show what the street would look like if they had to close due to financial loss. Several of the many independent stores on the street have already closed (CBC)

Small business cries foul over new lockdown in Ontario

With substantial increases in people testing positive for COVID 19, Canada’s most populous province renewed some lockdown rules on businesses in Toronto and neignbouring Peel region.

This means in-person shopping will be prohibited except for essential stores like supermarkets, hardware, convenience stores, pharmacies, and provincial alcohol outlets. These stores will also be limited to 50 per cent of capacity.

Bars and restaurants will no longer be allowed inside or even patio service. Any  outdoor gathering of people will also be reduced to 10 people and indoor gatherings prohibited except for members of that household.

Small independent businesses of all types have been dramatically affected by lockdowns and reduced clientele, with large numbers closing permanently. Those that have survived so far fear the deepening financial drain of further lockdowns.

Another poster notes the loss of local business to online foreign operations like Amazon. ( Evan Mitsui-CBC)

In Toronto anger is rising among small business owners who say this latest lockdown is unfair as they have to close for in-person shopping while large operations, many of them multinationals like Walmart, and Costco remain open to customers.

Premier Doug Ford said the situation with COVID dire and the virus was spreading “like wildfire”.  He also  said he agreed it’s “not fair’, but that something had to be done otherwise “We’d be in terrible, terrible shape”.

Speaking to CTV News, Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said, “we’re closing down the little flower shop, but you can go buy flowers at  Costco, they’re closing down the small lighting store I visited last night in north Toronto, but you can line up anytime at Home Depot to get lights”. He goes on to say that the latest lockdowns in Ontario and Manitoba will likely result in thousands of business failing. He said a prior to these latest lockdown measures the CFIB estimate of business failures stood at 160,000 or one in seven businesses in Canada would close permanently because of COVID measures.

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates up to one in seven small and medium sized businesses will fail due to the coronavirus health measures. ( CBC)

The  Ontario provincial government meanwhile has doubled the amount of money committed to businesses forced to close due to publc health measures to $600 million. Recently the federal government also announced a new programme to fund businesses for up to 90% of their rent depending on their circumstances.

Many small businesses say lockdowns only promote further online sales. A Toronto marketing agency  The Local Collective, is involved in the ‘not for lease’ campaign. Kaitlin Doherty, founder and managing director of the agency was quoted in BlogTO saying “Now more than ever, small businesses are going up against big massive companies like Amazon”.

The latest lockdown once again also closes zoos, museums casinos, and cultural meeting spaces.

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