Fairness for Ontario Small Businesses During COVID Crisis

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Background:

If you can walk into a Big Box store to purchase a sweater, why can't you do that from a local small business?

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. COVID-19 and the corresponding public health orders have been devastating to Canada’s main streets, while also being a boon to multi-national and large big box retailers. 

Research from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business shows that in Ontario, only 63% of businesses were fully re-opened in October after the initial closures in the spring.  The numbers are more devastating in hospitality (31% reopened). 

The carnage is evident for employment as well.  Only 41% of businesses have returned to normal staffing with 45% in retail and only 18% in hospitality.

Yet at the same time, big box retailers like Walmart, Loblaws and Canadian Tire are seeing large profits, even records in some cases.

We all agree that we need to work together to stop the spread of disease but small retailers and main streets are asking that measures be implemented carefully and fairly. We want people to be able to shop safely and shop local.

We call for measures to ensure small businesses can compete fairly and survive during the COVID-19 crisis.

Petition:

We call upon Ontario Premier Doug Ford, the Government of Ontario and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, to immediately take steps to protect local businesses, small businesses and the main streets of our communities by:

1.      Ensuring any closure orders due to COVID-19 maximize the ability of small businesses to continue to operate.

2.      Utilizing tools such as restrictions on numbers of customers based on physical space, mask use and social distancing (rather than arbitrary definitions of ‘essential goods or services’ or arbitrary numbers of customers) to determine how businesses can continue to operate.

3.      Limiting the definitions of ‘essential goods or services’ as narrowly as possible to ensure that small businesses may continue to operate.

4.      Applying any definition of ‘essential goods or services’ to all businesses, including big box retail, and forbidding big box or other department store models from selling any goods or services which cannot be sold by small retail or specialty stores.

Sources:

“While almost everyone else is suffering, big box stores are racking up impressive profits”: https://www.thestar.com/business/advice/2020/09/08/big-box-stores-thrive-in-pandemic-while-small-businesses-suffer.html

Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB): Investigating the impact of COVID-19 on independent business: https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/covid-19-surveys

Canadian Small Businesses Endangered by COVID-19: https://smallbusinessincrisis.ca/

Loblaws Beats Profit Expectations: https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/pandemic-related-spending-patterns-help-loblaw-beat-q3-profit-expectations-1.5185726

One Stop Shoppers Drive Sales Growth at Canadian Tire Amid Pandemic: https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/one-stop-shoppers-drive-sales-growth-at-canadian-tire-amid-pandemic-1.5176706

Winnipeg Big Retailers Stash Non-Essential Goods: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-new-shopping-restrictions-non-essential-goods-blocked-off-1.5810683