Advocacy group urging province to lift certain restrictions for small businesses to even the playing field

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Published November 26, 2020 at 12:13 am

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) is questioning the government’s decision to allow big box stores to remain open, while forcing small businesses to close or offer exclusively curb-side pickup.

The advocacy group is concerned that small business owners will see people who would normally shop at their stores instead opt to go to larger establishments where they can still shop in-store.

“We’ve already heard from hundreds of concerned small retailers who feel the lockdown restrictions have created a massive unfair advantage for many big, multi-national corporations,” Dan Kelly, president of CFIB, said in a news release.

“The province needs to fix this imbalance immediately and rely on small businesses as part of the solution to help keep Ontarians from gathering in large groups. The current rules close small bookstores, florists and lighting stores to instore business, but allow customers to line up at Costco and Walmart to buy these same items. If it is dangerous to buy a book at an independent bookseller, why isn’t it dangerous at Costco?” he continued.

In order to level the playing field, CFIB is urging the Province to allow small retailers that have been deemed non-essential to continue to offer in-store shopping, albeit at significantly reduced capacity.

The Federation is suggesting smaller stores could still provide a safe shopping atmosphere by limiting the number of customers permitted inside at a time to three, while limiting the number of public-facing staff to three for a total of six people permitted in the store at a time (a limit that is still below the number of people permitted to attend an indoor religious service under the new lockdown regulations).

However, CFIB is still encouraging shoppers to utilize curbside pickup or delivery options should they feel safer in doing so.

“A second round of lockdowns is a crushing blow for Ontario’s retail sector,” Ryan Mallough, Ontario director for CFIB, said in the same release. “Losing the holiday shopping season will mean permanent closure for many small retailers. We believe a Small Business First policy can help them survive, while reducing community spread of COVID-19 if all Ontarians buy in.”

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