In the face of new restrictions, business groups call for an immediate return of financial supports for Ontario’s struggling businesses
WITH PROVINCIAL MANDATES to restrict business operations in response to the Omicron wave, business associations are calling for a strategic plan and enhanced supports for the Ontario business community.
“Newly imposed restrictions intended to control the spread of the Omicron variant but that also inhibit business activity should be met with targeted relief and proportionate support programs, loan forgiveness and extensions on payment terms, particularly for small businesses who are still struggling at this time,” says Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) president & CEO, Rocco Rossi, in a released statement. “Provincially, many targeted supports ended months ago, and federally, they have been greatly reduced.
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“While we appreciate the rapid rise of Omicron was unexpected as we were all looking forward to Ontario’s reopening, we call on the Government of Ontario to reduce uncertainty in the business community and develop a long-term plan outlining how the province intends to support those impacted by new public health measures,” Rossi continues. “Given the rapidly shifting backdrop, clarity and transparency on specific metrics that inform the government’s decision to impose or ease restrictions are paramount for business confidence and continuity.”
For their part, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) stresses that only 35 per cent of Ontario’s small businesses are at normal revenues for this time of year and their average Covid-19-related debt is $190,000.
In addition, the CFIB says 34 per cent of Ontario’s small businesses report they are losing money every day they are open.
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“Restrictions of any kind at this time of year – especially for retailers who rely on the holiday season for revenues – could be the tipping point for many small businesses that can’t be expected to survive two consecutive years of poor holiday sales,” states the CFIB.
“The Nova Scotia government has already announced fresh supports for small businesses despite far lighter restrictions in many settings,” the CFIB adds. “While [Premiere Doug Ford] hinted that support may be coming, CFIB calls on the government to reconsider these measures and immediately reintroduce grant support for all affected businesses.