Business groups: New provincial grant “entirely insufficient”

Both the OCC and CFIB call for immediate additional measures for businesses not qualifying for new $10,ooo provincial grant for small businesses

THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT has announced a new $10,000 grant for small businesses shuttered by the latest round of public health measures.

Eligible businesses include gyms, museums and galleries, tour services and before- and after-school programs, while companies that had to slash their capacity in half, such as retailers, or those otherwise impacted by the shutdown, do not qualify.

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Reacting to the announcement, Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) president and CEO, Rocco Rossi, says further help is needed.

“We welcome new supports announced today by the Ontario government and their responsiveness to our feedback,” Rossi says in a release statement. “However, we are deeply concerned about those businesses that will be left behind. On the one hand, the grant is too narrow as it only applies to businesses that were required to fully close. It misses those that are at limited capacity or those losing revenue as a result of restrictions affecting their clients ―such as food service suppliers.

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“We recognize that public health and a healthy economy are intrinsically linked. However, sweeping new restrictions ― impacting employers, workers, and families ― unaccompanied by appropriately targeted and commensurate supports are unacceptable nearly two years into the pandemic. Beyond this, we need a comprehensive plan that ties restrictions to clear, data-based metrics so that employers, workers and families can plan ahead.”

Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said on Twitter that while the grant is “good news,” it will be “entirely insufficient” if the closures last longer than the scheduled three weeks.

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“The grant won’t help those affected by deep capacity restrictions (like retail), suppliers to locked down industries, those losing customers because of fear of Omicron or those who are affected by `work from home’ orders (like dry cleaners),” he writes. “More comprehensive help is needed.”

The province is also introducing a hydro relief program for businesses and residential customers, providing the off-peak rate 24 hours a day for 21 days, starting on January 18. Business groups: New provincial grant “entirely insufficient” grant COVID-19

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