Canadian Manufacturing

Ont. small businesses and workers frustrated by another round of lockdown measures

The Ontario government tried to ease some of those financial tensions on Jan. 3 with an expanded rebate program for businesses affected by the new slate of closures.

January 4, 2022  The Canadian Press

Ontario business owners were fretting about the future of their companies as workers braced for layoffs after the province levied new COVID-19 measures forcing some to close their doors temporarily and others to limit visitors.

The latest public health measures announced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Monday require restaurants and bars to halt indoor dining and cease selling alcohol after 10 p.m. starting on Jan. 5.

Retail settings, including shopping malls and personal care services, must reduce their capacity to 50 per cent, while indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries and other attractions are required to close.

The policies meant to curtail the province’s soaring COVID-19 cases are expected to remain in place until at least Jan. 26, but businesses fear even three weeks of closures will result in lost income and layoffs and exacerbate existing labour shortages and mounting costs.

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“I’m just in the middle of nowhere right now. I am really disappointed,” said Andy Page, the owner of Tomyum Restaurant and Wine Bar in Toronto.

“Every day I open my eyes and I see a whole bunch of bills just waiting for me to pay and a lot of people ask me why I still carry on. To be honest, it’s because I have no backup plan.”

More weeks closed will mean the bills — already high from rising inflation rates — will mount even further and Page will have to work harder to retain the staff he managed to hire in a tight labour market.

The Ontario government tried to ease some of those financial tensions on Jan. 3 with an expanded rebate program for businesses affected by the new slate of closures.

Certain businesses ordered to close will be reimbursed for 100 per cent of property tax and energy costs, it said, while ones required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent will receive a rebate payment for half those expenses.