Many small business owners concerned about potential second lockdown

 

With the number of new COVID-19 cases continuing to climb--October 8 saw the biggest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic--some are calling for a second lockdown in Ontario.

However, while some believe Ontario should revert to Stage 2, many small business owners do not agree.

The first closure was devastating on many small businesses--particularly those in the foodservice industry.

According to a recent survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), eight out of 10 small business owners are worried about the impacts of a second wave, including new rounds of closures or restrictions on business activities.

“At the start of the pandemic, it was understandable that governments did not have all of the needed support measures for small businesses immediately in place,” Dan Kelly, president of CFIB, said in a news release.

“But now, six months in, too many businesses are still struggling to access critical supports like CEBA and help with rent for the first wave of COVID-19. It will be a massive failure on the part of provincial governments if they announce further shutdowns without comprehensive, ready-to-go supports in place," he continued.

Additionally, 56 per cent of small-business owners believe their business may not survive.

In the event of further restrictions on businesses, CFIB is calling on governments to:

  • Provide businesses with access to immediate financial support to cover their ongoing costs (rent, property taxes, municipal taxes, etc.)
  • Offer significant support for employee and contractor wages, including an income stream for the business owner
  • Suspend evictions and property seizures of shut down businesses
  • Ensure shutdowns are consistent and targeted to the sectors of greatest concern, as backed by transparent healthcare policy evidence
  • Review and update lockdown measures daily to avoid any business being closed a day longer than necessary
  • Ensure that any lockdowns are administered fairly and do not provide an unlevel playing field to large businesses due to exemptions for those with grocery/pharmacy aisles

Further, many small business owners believe the first shutdown was unfair due to the fact small retailers were closed entirely, while big-box stores such as Costco and Walmart were allowed to continue to sell all kinds of goods unrestricted because they had a grocery or pharmacy section.

“The first round of closures was devastating for small businesses, not just because they had to close but because it has made Canadians afraid to visit them. Most are open again, but have struggled to return to normal sales, while online giants like Amazon have posted record profits,” Kelly said.

“With the critical holiday shopping period just around the corner, further shutdowns would be devastating," he added.

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