On Thursday, I met with local BIAs from Davenport and Spadina-Fort York to hear from them how the new restrictions were impacting member businesses and the workers they employ, and to ask what supports we could help advocate for.
In response, Spadina-Fort York MPP Chris Glover and I drafted a letter to the Premier calling for more help to help our mainstreets survive this lockdown. (Read the letter here - text below)
January 5th, 2022
Dear Premier Ford and Associate Minister Tangri,
After two years of disruptions and struggle during this pandemic, small businesses across the province have again been told to shut down or limit capacity with less than 48 hours notice. This morning, we met with BIA representatives from our ridings who told us that unless the government implements direct and immediate financial support to businesses, many will be forced to close.
The government’s January 3rd announcement of a temporary closure of indoor dining, gyms and recreation facilities, and entertainment and tourism venues, has left many businesses scrambling, particularly in hospitality, where they’ve been left with stock that they cannot sell. Your government’s announced tax rebates are not yet available for businesses and many will not benefit as they do not own their properties. At the same time, expiring federal supports are leaving them with fewer options than in previous lockdowns.
Businesses have told us they need more support during this current lockdown to pay their rent, and cover staffing costs in order to survive.
We are asking for you to immediately introduce another round of small business support grants to directly aid small businesses in this latest shutdown and to expand the ban on commercial evictions. These restrictions are impacting businesses now, and a rebate program that results in payments after the fact or a deferral of taxes will be too late for businesses already struggling.
Small businesses that are open with capacity limits need adequate staffing. Distributing rapid antigen tests to businesses will help employers report and track cases of COVID-19. This will protect the safety of staff and patrons and ensure that small businesses have enough staff to keep their doors open.
Small businesses in Toronto and across the province have been struggling to stay afloat through the last 22 months of this pandemic, but they need help now more than ever. We have seen thousands of businesses close as a result of inadequate supports that often arrived too late in response to government mandated lockdowns. The government has an obligation to save thousands of jobs and protect our local small businesses through this lockdown. It’s not only the right thing to do, but will help our economy to recover from this pandemic more quickly.
Marit Stiles, MPP for Davenport
Chris Glover, MPP for Spadina-Fort York