New closures will be “fatal” for thousands of small businesses, the lawyer warns


TORONTO – Small businesses that have survived the pandemic so far are now at risk of permanent closure if governments don’t do more to help them stay afloat in the second wave, with large companies like Costco and Walmart set to benefit most from the closures, according to one of the main supporters of the business.

Toronto has banned indoor dining and has set a 10pm curfew for all establishments and gyms are limited to a maximum capacity of 10 people. In Manitoba, the provincial-level “red code” restrictions that go into effect Thursday will force the closure of gyms, hairdressers, casinos and all businesses that are not considered a critical service. Grocery stores and pharmacies can remain open at 25% of capacity.

The new restrictions come as Canada has consistently broken its daily workload records in recent weeks with Ontario and Quebec regularly reporting more than 1,000 cases per day.

Businesses are already struggling to make ends meet. According to a recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), 70% of Toronto companies say they don’t have the finances to get through another block.

“The impact on these companies of having to remain closed for an extended period of time will, for many, be fatal,” Dan Kelly, CFIB president and CEO, told CTV News Channel Wednesday.

The CFIB released a report in July that 158,000 small and medium-sized businesses are at risk of closure. Today that number is much higher, Kelly said.

“That number could skyrocket now that not just Toronto but cities across Canada and the entire province of Manitoba are again under lockdown orders,” he said.

The new restrictions coincide with the holiday shopping season. In places like Manitoba, where non-essential retail activities are limited to online shopping, pickup and sidewalk delivery, shoppers looking for gift ideas can instead turn to department stores that are allowed to stay open because they have aisles. of food.

“This means that we will once again shift traffic in Manitoba anyway from small independent businesses to big box stores like Costco and Walmart that can sell just about anything, anytime,” Kelly said.

Retail analysts are already expecting an increase in online shopping during the holiday season, after a steady increase throughout 2020.

A recent survey by the Retail Council of Canada found that even though Canadians turn to online shopping during the holiday season, 90% said it was important for them to buy from a Canadian retailer. The survey also found that Canadians are spending less on vacations, about $ 693 this year compared to $ 792 last year.

The liberal government introduced a bill earlier this month that included a new commercial rent reduction program to provide aid directly to businesses. The bill would also extend the federal wage subsidy and stop a previously planned decline in the value of payments.

The bill passed the House of Commons last week and is now under consideration in the Senate.

But troubled companies simply can’t afford to wait any longer for relief, Kelly said.

“The most disappointing thing about the Prime Minister’s messages is that these programs he talks about as alternatives to the activities that remain open are not yet ready,” he said.

Since March, the federal government has spent billions on business and worker programs, including Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Ottawa also provided $ 19 billion in “safe reboot” funding for the provinces.

Earlier this week Trudeau begged provinces not to keep sectors of their economies open if they put Canadians at risk. Instead, the prime minister said they should seek help if they are in a position to choose between work or public safety.

“The first job right now is to keep people safe,” Trudeau said Tuesday.

A survey conducted by the CFIB in October of more than 4,200 companies found that uncertainty around the second wave was the main concern of entrepreneurs, followed by economic repercussions and concerns that consumer spending could decrease. 14% of respondents said they actively consider bankruptcy or closure, a number that has remained stable since the summer.

With Rachel Aiello’s files of in Ottawa


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