I making his announcement today that once again indoor dining would be suspended and other small business capacity limits reintroduced, Doug Ford hinted at additional financial support for the hard-hit sector.
Bur so far the Ontario Government news release accompanying today’s announcement has only re-stated existing provisions that allow businesses to receive rebate payments for a portion of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to these measures. Eligible businesses required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs, while businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. The government is also providing up to $7.5 billion for a six-month interest- and penalty-free period for Ontario businesses to make payments for most provincially administered taxes.
Dan Kelly, President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in a statement today said, “there are currently no provincial supports for small businesses and desperately needed grant funding has not been available since April 7, a day before the third lockdown began. The government’s promised property tax/energy rebate program and tax payment deferrals will provide some relief; however, they are not nearly enough, not accessible today, and will kick the debt can further down the road.
Restrictions of any kind when businesses need to start making up for months and months of lost revenues will be the tipping point for many small firms. It is not lost on business owners that each time the Ontario government has closed businesses, they have gone well beyond the promised lockdown period.
CFIB calls on the government to immediately reintroduce provincial grant support for all businesses affected in any way by today’s announcement and provide an immediate pathway to reopening.
The government release hinted at further support saying, “the government is also exploring options for providing further targeted and necessary supports for businesses and workers impacted by the province’s move into a modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen, including grants. The government will also continue to call on the federal government to come to table and help us support Ontario businesses and Ontario workers by allowing eligible businesses to defer HST and to enhance supports available to workers affected by current public health measures.”