CFIB letter to Doug Ford: “Let small businesses reopen now”

By: Broderick Visser
Published: June 2, 2021

An open letter from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) titled “let small businesses open now,” has been sent to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, calling on him to immediately begin reopening the economy to save thousands of businesses from being forced to shutter their doors permanently.

The letter states June 2 was supposed to be the day for businesses to reopen, but the government still extended restrictions for another two weeks even with case numbers dropping and vaccination estimations being on par with step two of the reopening plan.

Businesses closed for at least another two weeks and many much longer

“Tomorrow is supposed to be the day that our retailers, our restaurant patios, our gyms and our hair salons
finally reopen their doors after two long months of province-wide lockdown. Instead, Ontario’s reopening plan
has them remaining closed for at least another two weeks, and many for much longer. Meanwhile, COVID cases
continue a strong downward trend, and estimates show vaccinations have already hit the first-dose threshold
for Step 2.”

Ontario’s CFIB’s national average puts Ontario just ahead of Nova Scotia

The letter also states that only 42 per cent of Ontario’s small businesses are fully open, with 37 per cent of those are fully staffed. “A mere 27 per cent are at normal revenue levels.” The CFIB also states that these indicators lag their national average — with Ontario being one of the worst in the country, only ahead of Nova Scotia.

“The situation is dire, and the cost of not moving sooner will be immense.”

The CFIB put together data by sector and regions, Toronto and Peel, to show how many days businesses have been closed accumulatively between the prior spring lockdown and the current lockdown.

“Restaurants in Toronto have been closed to indoor dining for 367 days across the various provincial lockdowns,
shutdowns, and emergency breaks. An entire year’s worth of business has been lost and the industry is looking –
at minimum – at another 67 days of being closed to indoor dining under the current plan. This news is
particularly frustrating to Ontario restaurant owners when their counterparts in British Columbia, Saskatchewan
and much of Quebec were allowed to reopen to indoor dining in the first steps of reopening plans, instead of the

2021 wedding season a “lost cause”

Florists, caterers and décor businesses are even telling the CFIB that the 2021 wedding season is already a lost cause since various venues haven’t had full capacity since the beginning of the pandemic over 400 days ago.

Under current trends, Alberta will be fully open around the same time Ontario allows haircuts

“Yes, other provinces have used business lockdowns at various points during the pandemic. But no jurisdiction in
North America – and very few in the world – have locked down businesses for the length of time businesses
have been closed in Ontario. From decisions like closing ski hills and golf courses, to completely shutting down
non-essential retailers and hair salons, the phrase “only in Ontario” has been far too common throughout the
pandemic. In British Columbia, retailers were never closed to in-store customers,” reads the letter.

The CFIB is urging the Ford government to immediately reopen;

  • All retailers at minimum 20% capacity.
  • Restaurant patios and limited indoor service.
  • Hair salons and barbers by appointment.
  • Gyms and recreational activities by appointment.

“We further urge you to go back to the drawing board on Ontario’s reopening plan to:”

  • Announce significantly earlier reopening dates in line with other provinces.
  • Provide a detailed timeline for the full economy to reopen, including events and entertainment.
  • Allow regions with low case numbers and hospitalization rates to reopen much faster.
  • Announce a 3rd round of Ontario Small Business Support Grant funding and expand coverage to all businesses that have been locked down or significantly affected by a shutdown or stay-at-home order

“Time is quickly running out for Ontario small business owners to keep their firms afloat. Many have exhausted
their personal savings and as of July, will start losing access to federal funding programs while still being fully
shut down by the province. Swift action must be taken now to begin reopening the provincial economy for the
sake of saving small business,” the letter ends.

You can read the full letter and download it below;

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