Ontario announces $300M to offset fixed cost for restaurants, small businesses

Published On October 13, 2020 | By Jennifer Kozak | News
Jennifer Kozak

Ford announced $300M to help offset fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills, to provide relief for local restaurants and other businesses impacted by new public health measures.

With a surge in COVID-19 numbers, the Ontario government made the difficult decision to move Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel Region back to a modified Stage 2 for at least 28 days.

“I can’t stress enough how difficult and painful it was to make this decision. My heart breaks for these folks, and I understand what this decision means to each and every one of you,” Premier Doug Ford said during a news conference at Mamma Martinos restaurant in Etobicoke, on Oct.13.

As of Saturday, gyms, movie theatres, and indoor dining at restaurants in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel were required to shut down for 28 days to reduce the virus’s spread.

The Ontario government is encouraging everyone to support local restaurants and the food services industry as the province steps back into Stage 2.

“Families and entrepreneurs across Ontario have poured their hearts into local restaurants and diners. They’ve been there for us, from donating to charities to sponsoring little league sports,” Premier Ford said.

The Ontario government is also supporting small businesses through its Main Street Recovery Plan.

Through the plan, the government plans on providing the following:

  • Committing to permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order before the existing regulation expires;
  • Permanently allowing 24/7 deliveries to restaurants;
  • Providing mental health supports to business owners and employees who are struggling;
  • Providing $57 million with federal partners through the Digital Main Street program and creating new Digital Main Street squads to help small businesses grow online; and
  • Launching a new portal to assist small businesses to quickly find the supports and information they need.

“Small businesses account for 98 per cent of all businesses across the province and employ close to 2.4 million hardworking Ontarians. That’s why their recovery, including those in the foodservice sector, is so critical to Ontario’s recovery,” said Minister Sarkaria, associate minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction for the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

The Premier also had a message to third party delivery companies such as Uber Eats.

“It’s time to do your part. We need you to help out these mom and pop shops right now. Please consider reducing the commission rates you charge the restaurants impacted by these new health measures. We can’t have restaurants paying as much 30 per cent commission to have their food delivered right now. I am told that in some cases that’s on top the service fees and delivery fees paid by consumers,” Ford said.

Julie Kwiecinski, director of provincial affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, hopes that the $300 million will also be applied to restaurants who still have patio dining as an option. Indoor dining makes up a significant portion of how much money a restaurant makes.

“This is one thing we stress with the government because we don’t want them to get off, not providing funding to restaurants just because they’re allowed to have their patio and takeout. They should still be eligible for this $300 million because you’ve taken away a significant source of their revenue,” she said.

Kwiecinski wants the money to be available quickly to help aid small businesses and restaurant owners.

“The government should provide details of this fund quickly so restaurant owners can apply. This should be hassle-free. They shouldn’t demand oodles and oodles of paperwork,” she said.

The Ford government is hopeful that this recovery plan will provide financial relief to small businesses and restaurant owners.

“We will get the economy booming again. We all have to have hope. We all have faith. Nothing can stop us when we work together, ” Ford said.

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