Small business in North Bay used as 'cannon fodder'

Walmart, meanwhile, open to in-store customers for the entire pandemic

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To the editor:

With Friday’s announcement of extended lockdowns for North Bay, Toronto and Peel until at least March 8, the Ontario government has once again chosen to use small business as cannon fodder, renewing its reputation as the least small business-friendly government in the country during the pandemic.

With the extended lockdowns in Toronto and Peel, small businesses will enter their fourth straight month without the ability to serve customers in-store. As of March 8, retailers, gyms, and hair salons will have been closed to in-store customers for 105 consecutive days in Toronto and Peel. Indoor dining in Toronto will not have been allowed since Oct. 10 — 149 days.

Meanwhile, despite providing zero evidence to support it is safer, the government has consistently chosen to keep Walmart and Costco open to in-store customers for the entire pandemic.

Being asked to just hang in there a little longer is an unacceptable and downright insulting response to the thousands of employers and their tens of thousands of employees whose livelihoods are on the line.

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Almost every other province opened schools and businesses — or didn’t close them in the first place — while COVID-19 numbers continued to fall. In fact, Ontario businesses — particularly those in the GTA — have been locked down longer than the vast majority of jurisdictions around the world.

It is unconscionable that this government has not come up with an alternative to lockdowns, while dismissing even the most modest proposals to allow for a limited head count or by-appointment in-store service.

Ontario’s small businesses deserve better.

We call on the Ontario government to reverse course and keep its commitment to reopen small retailers immediately in Toronto, Peel and North Bay and to provide a clear plan to reopen all remaining sectors in these areas in the coming weeks.

Dan Kelly, president & CEO

Canadian Federation of Independent Business

What’s your opinion?

The Nugget welcomes letters to the editor, for both online and print, between 200 and 400 words. Please email yours to nbay.letters@sunmedia.ca

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