STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
SIXTH INTERIM REPORT: ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES
1st Session, 42nd Parliament
69 Elizabeth II
The Honourable Ted Arnott, MPP
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
Your Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs has the honour to present its Report and commends it to the House.
Amarjot Sandhu, MPP
Chair of the Committee
STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
1st Session, 42nd Parliament
STAN CHO MIKE SCHREINER
SOL MAMAKWA DAVE SMITH
*DONNA SKELLY was replaced by LOGAN KANAPATHI on September 14, 2020.
MICHAEL COTEAU regularly served as a substitute member of the Committee.
Clerk of the Committee
SANDRA LOPES, LAURA ANTHONY and SUDE BELTAN
· culture and heritage;
· municipalities, construction and building;
· small and medium enterprises; and
· other economic sectors selected by the Committee.
Impact of the COVID-19 Shutdown
Collab Space and the Urban Centre
Beauty United/Sugar Moon Salon Inc.
Canada Emergency Business Account
Snuggles n Bubbles Baby Spa
Aroma Salt Therapy & Beauty Spa
Anishnawbe Business Professional Association
Rent and Utilities
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance
Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory
Wages and Severance
Kingston Accommodation Partners
Expenses and Liabilities
Safety and Cleaning
· Federal Assistance Programs — work with the federal government to ensure that programs targeting small and medium-sized employers are easy to apply to, are extended for the duration of pandemic-related restrictions and/or until the economy recovers, and provide special relief for hard-hit industries and businesses. Specifically:
· Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) — increase loan amounts and provide more debt forgiveness.
· Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) — lower the threshold for revenue loss and provide support directly to tenants.
· Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) — simplify the application process and extend the subsidy.
· Loans/Grants — provide industry-specific and community-focused grants and loans.
· Evictions — extend moratorium on commercial evictions.
· Utilities — continue to provide and enhance measures to reduce electricity rates.
· Severance — extend provisions that paused pandemic-related layoffs.
· Tax Relief — extend current tax relief measures and provide HST relief.
· Insurance — exercise provincial regulatory power to control insurance costs and require insurance companies to provide relief to SMEs.
· Personal guarantee — provide government protection for no-fault bankruptcies for small businesses for up to 18 months.
The New Normal
Communication and Coordination
Public Health Guidelines
Categorization of businesses
Rinx Entertainment Centre Inc. and
Playtime Bowl & Entertainment
Simmering Kettle and Dosti Eats
1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce
Availability of Labour
Ontario Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce
Regulatory Burden Reduction
· the high number of environmental approvals required to start a construction project in Ontario;
· duplicative requirements from federal and provincial governments;
· inefficient and complicated permitting processes for building and renovations; and,
· a lack of standardized permitting processes for fibre optic, and high costs for deploying broadband infrastructure in rural Ontario.
· Communication and coordination — consult with businesses on second wave planning and provide consistent information in a timely manner.
· Standardized essential businesses — ensure small and medium-sized businesses are treated fairly by prohibiting large retailers from selling nonessential items or allowing for curbside pickup for all businesses.
· Clarify public health guidelines — introduce clear, nuanced standards and guidelines according to regional realities and sector/facility specifics, and provide consistent, effective, and timely feedback to businesses regarding their application.
· Consumer confidence — mandate mask use and clarify provincial messaging to encourage safe consumer behaviours.
· Regulatory burden — further reduce the regulatory burden on small and medium-sized businesses.
· Broadband technology — invest in broadband technology for better internet access in rural and remote communities.
· Digital Main Street Program — extend the program to small businesses without a storefront.
· Child Care — consider child care as part of future economic recovery plans.
· Reduce property taxes for value-added agriculture to encourage growth and diversification of Ontario’s agri-food products.
· Enhance the rural and urban (i.e., transportation and retail) side of the agri-food value chain.
· Develop a quarantine support program to address labour shortages excluded from crop insurance programs.
· Develop a beef processing infrastructure fund for projects at provincial abattoirs to increase processing capacity, combining no-interest loans, non-repayable loans, and cost-share funding.
· Work with the federal government to improve funding programs offered to producers through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
· Fund the $12.2 million shortfall for Ontario agriculture societies.
· Remove the requirement for organizations with revenue over $250,000 to have an auditor’s report to be eligible for Resilient Communities Fund.
Alcohol and Cannabis
· continue to allow the sale of alcohol for delivery and takeout; and
· continue to support efforts to expand the use of patios as weather permits without an additional application or permitting fee.
· Extend additional support measures from the LCBO to at least the end of 2020.
· Implement a wholesale pricing structure and create specialty stores throughout the province.
· Eliminate the 6.1% wine tax
· Expand retail locations and lift restrictions on listings for craft beer.
· Allow craft beer brewers to open a retail store without an operating brewery on site.
· Eliminate the environmental levy on beer cans.
· Reinstate curbside e-commerce, pick-up and delivery for licensed cannabis retailers.
· Allow private retailers to buy directly from licensed cannabis producers rather than only from the Ontario Cannabis Store.
Arts and Culture
· Create a provincial wage subsidy or live arts labour credit for hiring professional contracted musicians and/or actors.
· Partner with municipalities to hire musicians to provide small-scale “cultural relief” events for the public.
· Invest in the Ontario Arts Council to provide viable virtual alternatives to live theatre performance, and provide support for the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund to encourage outdoor festivals.
· Ensure that the Ontario Arts Council consults with rural municipalities to develop a funding model with eligibility for small rural art galleries.
· Create a donation matching program to incentivize private-sector donations.
· Create two radio advertising funds, $20 million each, with an additional required contribution from broadcasters. The funds would allow small businesses and tourism organizations to advertise their local goods and events.
Charities and Non-profits
· Provide $680 million in sector stabilization funding.
· Double the provincial portion of the Charitable Donation Tax Credit through to the end of 2021 and make the credit refundable.
· Match donations to provincial charities or national charities with provincial offices.
Construction and Building
· Exempt contractors and subcontractors from liability for pandemic-related delays.
· Establish a relief provision that allows banks and bonding companies to financially support contractors while they deal with contractual and payment delays.
· Create a home renovation tax credit.
· Create a home and building retrofit program focused on improvements to indoor air quality and on reducing energy costs.
· Provide grants or tax incentives for small businesses to take on apprentices.
· Improve the Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit by, for example, implementing a service standard, redefining eligible labour activities, and allowing for more collaboration between Ontario companies.
· Allocate a higher proportion of tax credits for the cultural and media sector to gaming.
· Allow the establishment of video gaming terminals in licenced restaurants, bars and service clubs.
Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
Strengthen Supply Chains and Support Business Growth
Wellmaster Pipe and Supply Inc.
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
· Make and buy local - encourage consumers and businesses to buy from Ontario small and medium enterprises.
· Support manufacturing – create a competitive tax environment and increase investment in Ontario-based manufacturing industries.
· Interprovincial trade — reduce barriers to the movement of goods within Canada.
· International trade – work with the federal government to negotiate favorable international trade agreements.
· Simplify — help small and medium enterprises compete more effectively, by simplifying the RFP process, making decisions transparently, and flowing money quickly.
· Engage — encourage public sector organizations to broaden their search outside of their existing vendors of record though a challenge-based call for proposals.
· Digitize — procure small and medium enterprises to support virtual health care and other digital public sector efforts.
Support Start-ups and Promote Innovation
· Intellectual property — develop an intellectual property strategy to encourage capital investment in companies rich in intellectual property.
· Capital — improve access to capital for start-ups.
· Health Innovation Fund — create a Health Innovation Fund to accelerate the development of health science companies in Ontario.
· Tax incentives — provide tax incentives to encourage local investment for local and early-stage companies to help organizations scale-up.
· Retain and train skilled labour — invest in a talent program to retain and train highly skilled labour in Ontario.
Terms of Reference*
Dissenting Opinion of the Liberal Party Members of the Committee
- The Province creates incentives for economic stimulus programs that consider the needs of women in a She-covery e.g. stimulus programs include opportunities for women.
- The Province creates education and employment training grants for women impacted by COVID-19 employment losses. The Province creates partnerships with private employers for job placements.
- The Province creates an Ontario start-up and innovation fund for investments in new and emerging ideas in response to COVID-19.
- The Province waives the collection of taxes including payroll premiums for six months for small businesses.
- Some sectors of the economy (like tourism) have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. The Province shall establish a task force to identify sectors of the economy that remain mostly inactive and examine how to ensure their long-term survival.
- The Province creates an affordable child-care strategy as we prepare to re-open the economy.
- The Province shall work with the Anti-Racism Directorate and establish the collection of race-based data, specifically when it comes to layoffs, unemployment, and business closures during COVID-19.
- The Government recognizes, and declares broadband as essential infrastructure by increasing funding for the Ontario Broadband and Cellular Action Plan, and redeveloping it to ensure that every Ontarian has access to affordable and reliable high speed internet by 2024.
- The Province establishes a program that reimburses a portion of property taxes on farm-based agricultural businesses to protect the industry and support a consistent local supply chain.
- The Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade shall establish a task force to identify strategies and support for Northern and Rural Ontario, and work with local communities to revive economic activity.
- To support Ontario restaurants, issue an emergency order restricting third-party delivery service commission fees to 15%, like New York and Los Angeles have done.
- The Province should create a program that incentivizes Ontarians for visiting restaurants by providing vouchers, with a program similar to the U.K.’s model for discounting restaurant bills.
The committee heard from several presenters who outlined the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Small and Medium Enterprises, all of whom are calling for increased funding and support. We, the Ontario Liberal members of the committee, understand and acknowledge these impacts. Immediate support and investment are required to ensure the overall economic recovery of our Province. Our recommendations represent what the Committee members heard and reflect what the SME sector will need in financial support, red tape reduction, and regulatory change to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premier Ford is Shortchanging Ontario, Small Businesses Need More
Throughout this summer and over the past few weeks, as this committee considers the economic impacts of COVID-19 on small and medium enterprises, this government and all committee members have been made aware of the harsh realities our businesses and employers are facing. Aside from allowing businesses to reopen, why has the Premier not implemented appropriate measures critical for supporting jobs, businesses and our economy? The reopening comes at a cost too. As we have since the onset of the pandemic, the Ontario Liberals continue to urge Premier Doug Ford to take more action, step up and support our small businesses and employers.
The FAO report on Federal and Provincial COVID-19 Response Measures estimated the province is sitting on close to $7 billion in unallocated funds, including $3.5 billion in cash transfers from the federal government. The Premier cannot argue that he has no money to spend. Ontario’s small businesses desperately need liquidity through tax relief, more regulatory changes, targeted spending measures and financial support from our province should we expect them to survive this economic downturn due to COVID-19. The time for tax relief and appropriate repayment plans is now; we cannot expect all businesses to pay their deferred taxes within the next two months, especially if we are on the brink of a second wave. The pandemic has gone on longer than anyone could have predicted. Small business owners are the backbone of Ontario’s economy and main streets. They have invested everything into their businesses and despite pivoting in response to COVID-19 many are struggling to survive. People cannot afford to lose their homes and assets on loans taken out pre-COVID. Ontarians need a government that is in their corner.
The She-cession, Impacts on Women, Indigenous, BIPOC Workers & Small Business Owners
Over the last three consecutive Statistics Canada Labour Force Surveys, there has been a consistent trend for job recovery for COVID-19 related employment losses: it is "more advanced among men than among women." This challenge is similar for female entrepreneurs. Given the government's lacklustre plan for return to school, no action to mitigate parents' fears for their children's safety, and the lack of childcare being widely available, mothers face high barriers for return to work as the "he-covery" expedites. MPP Hunter illustrated these concerns to the Minister of Finance in her open letter dated July 8th of 2020. We are approaching the month of October and are yet to see any specific or adequate action to address the unique concerns of women’s economic recovery.
Investments in infrastructure stimulus alone will not reach those hardest hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic. More supports and investments targeting women, Black, Indigenous and people of colour are required.
Rural and Northern Ontario the need for broadband
The Ontario Liberal members of the committee heard about the effects of COVID-19 on small and medium enterprises in rural and northern communities in Ontario extensively during committee proceedings.
Witnesses repeatedly told this committee about the need to address the persistent gap in equitable broadband access across Ontario. Rural and Northern Ontarian businesses face disproportionate economic impacts from this pandemic as lack of access to reliable internet connectivity hinders Ontarians' ability to shift to a more virtual world. We need immediate action regarding the availability of broadband internet access. Rural business owners are doing the right thing by not travelling to urban communities to meet with stakeholders, and staying in their homes, but are negatively reinforced by seeing their businesses' local economy suffer as this government provides no other alternative.
Multiple witnesses who presented before this committee's COVID-19 study have outlined the importance of why the government must ensure a robust domestic supply chain for the agri-food industry. While not only this is critical for many SMEs survival, this impacts directly into every Ontarian’s day to day life. We must prevent the impacts of this pandemic from worsening. These witnesses have informed us of the pressures they face while also reducing processing capacity to meet public health guidelines or facing distribution challenges as in-home consumption has increased in place of decreased consumption out of the home. Amidst labour shortages from the pandemic, outbreaks amongst workers also pose a threat to these businesses' survivability alone. Our party's committee members call on the Premier to take concrete steps to protect our supply chain, these jobs, businesses and communities.
Restaurants heavily rely on the flow and gathering of people. Even with the reopening process, as we are all aware, the novel coronavirus has limited many people to their homes, severely damaging this sector. Before this virus, restaurants were already in a challenging position to operate, and now need immediate support if they are to survive the course of this pandemic.
The Ontario Liberal Party initially called for enabling restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages through take-out and delivery. We heard from many restaurateurs that they want the government to consider making this policy permanent. The policy would assist restaurants moving forward as responsible alcohol sales provide a valuable source of revenue. Restaurants will continue to rely on take-out as capacity will reduce without patios this winter and dining in is limited to allow for physical distancing.
In their submission, The Kitkat Restaurant Group asked that Ontario should restrict third-party delivery service commission fees on restaurants. Members of our caucus have called for this throughout the pandemic while the Progressive Conservative government stands still. Perhaps this is because Premier Ford is "for the corporations" instead of "For the People." In May, Liberal MPP Amanda Simard delivered an open letter to Minister Sakaria, calling for this specific regulatory change that follows what jurisdictions like New York and Los Angeles have done. Restaurants now heavily rely on these services to survive, but big corporations take commission fees as high as thirty to forty percent from these small businesses. As these businesses still have hard costs and declined revenue from this pandemic, it is only fair that the Government regulates large enterprises to step up and do their part to protect these businesses from collapsing.
Start-Up and Innovation
The Committee heard from businesses and organizations critical to Ontario’s economy - the start-up and innovation sector. In their testimony, Ms. Chee from ventureLAB, a technology hub, identified unique challenges facing the technology and innovation sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As is true in many sectors, the sector is faced with gaps in their supply chains, from sourcing PPE to essential supplies. More uniquely to start-ups, the sector has seen a sharp drop in investment capital, which is critical to developing small businesses that have been tracking for rapid growth.
We also heard from ventureLAB about the possibility of a brain drain, as talent leaves Ontario due to investments dropping and economic uncertainty. Ontario is home to a quality education system and several post-secondary institutions globally renowned for their quality STEM programs. They attract large numbers of international students who want to stay and work in Canada. We have a large pool of potential talent to drive the technology and innovation sector and reinvigorate Ontario’s economy. As Ontario moves forward with the economy, a strong start-up and innovation sector will be vital in fuelling growth now and for decades to come.
Dissenting Opinion of the Green Party Member of the Committee
During those first few days of Covid-19, before they were even mandated to do so, it was many of our small businesses that voluntarily chose to close their doors to help curb the spread of the virus.
And in many cases, it was these same small businesses that remained closed longer than other businesses and sectors when the province began to gradually reopen.
And unfortunately, it is many of these same small businesses that still cannot fully operate profitably due to the restrictions that remain in place in stage 3.
Our small and medium sized businesses have been hit hard. We heard that from over 200 businesses who testified orally and by written submission to this Committee. We cannot deny it.
We also cannot allow our downtowns and mainstreets to become ghost towns. There will be no economic recovery if we don’t help these entrepreneurs get through these difficult times.
We heard loud and clear that female, Indigenous, Black and minority-owned businesses face unique barriers to accessing capital and that grants targeting these groups could pay larger economic and social dividends.
The Anishnawbe Business Professional Association explained that only a small percentage of First Nation businesses can access financing from traditional financial institutions, particularly in Northern Ontario.
A Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business survey found almost four of five respondents reported that their business revenue had decreased by 30% or more, and 53% said their business revenue decreased by 75% or more. Over a third are no longer generating sales.
And as Shakiba Shayani from the Guelph Chamber of Commerce stated,
“in the Spring, women’s workforce participation rate in Canada fell to its lowest level in 30 years. Re-employment continues to be slowest for women with children between the ages of 6 and 17. This is deeply concerning, not just for women but for the economy.”
The Ottawa Board of Trade summarized the concern more broadly: “SMEs’ failure is everyone’s failure.”
We heard from groups that the limited relief that came from the provincial government came too late. The commercial eviction ban came after many businesses had already closed shop, and the rent assistance program was late and flawed, leaving many businesses out of luck.
Right now we have big decisions in front of us. We are at a fork in the road.
○ Fix the broken rent relief program so that tenants can apply and extend the moratorium on commercial evictions.
○ Provide tax credits for small businesses to purchase PPE and renovate their businesses to meet public health guidelines so staff and customers are safe.
○ Provide investment support for businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and racialized people.
○ And invest in people-centered downtowns.
The Green Party of Ontario is eager to work across party lines to design and implement programs and policies to support small and medium enterprises. In addition to the recommendations in the Committee report, the Green Party of Ontario puts forward the following recommendations to the provincial government for consideration to provide additional support to the small and medium-sized business sectors:
1. Encourage the federal government to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to apply for government support;
2. Work with the federal government to change the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program to lower the eligibility threshold to a 20% decline in revenue;
3. Work with the federal government to change CECRA to have the tenant apply for eligibility for the program instead of the landlord;
4. Extend the commercial evictions ban to January 1, 2021;
5. Develop an Ontario Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program if the federal government does not agree to significant changes to CECRA;
6. Encouraging the federal government to simplify the application process and extend Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy;
7. Invest in all financially viable conservation and efficiency programs to help reduce utility costs for small and medium sized businesses.
8. Extend current tax relief measures for small and medium-sized businesses;
9. Convert tax deferrals to grants for small businesses who have experienced a 50% decline in revenue;
10. Exercise provincial regulatory power to control insurance costs and require insurance companies to provide relief to SMEs;
11. Provide government protection for no-fault bankruptcies for small businesses for up to 18 months;
12. Encourage municipalities to review residential zoning that restricts housing types to detached or semi-detached and consider opportunities for rezoning to allow mid-density housing;
13. Streamline approvals and processes that are real estate related for Zoning, Committee of Adjustment & Ancillary suite approvals;
14. Develop a second wave plan in consultation with businesses and communicate the plan in a clear and consistent way;
15. If another shutdown is needed, the government must ensure that small and medium-sized businesses are treated fairly by prohibiting large retailers from selling non essential items and by enabling all retailers to sell through curb-side pick up in ways that comply with public health measures;
16. Work with public health officials and industry representatives to develop and clearly communicate sector specific reopening guidelines that protect public health and address industry specific needs and experiences;
17. Provide consistent, effective, and timely feedback to businesses regarding operational and public health guidelines;
18. Declare broadband an essential service;
19. Double the budget allocation for the expansion of rural and remote broadband access;
20. Work with the federal government to establish 10 paid sick days;
21. Establish presumptive eligibility for WSIB benefits for workers who contract COVID-19;
22. Create a home and building retrofit program focused on improvements to indoor air quality and on reducing energy costs;
23. Establish a $680 stabilization fund for the Ontario non-profit sector;
24. Provide childcare stabilization funding as an essential component of economic recovery;
25. Ensure pharmacies are engaged and supported in the distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine;
26. Work with the federal government to expand funding for the Digital Mainstreet program;
27. Reduce property taxes for value-added agriculture on farms to encourage growth and diversification of Ontario’s agri-food products and to make local food more accessible;
28. Invest in distribution, processing, and retail value chains to make local food more available and to support Ontario farmers;
29. Protect prime farmland so that Ontario has enough land to make local food available to Ontarians;
30. Develop a quarantine support program to address labour shortages excluded from crop insurance programs;
31. Develop a food processing infrastructure fund for projects at provincial abattoirs to increase processing capacity, combining no-interest loans, non-repayable loans, and cost-share funding;
32. Work with the federal government to improve funding programs offered to producers through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership;
33. Fund the $12.2 million shortfall for Ontario agricultural societies;
34. Remove the requirement for organizations with revenue over $250,000 to have an auditor’s report to be eligible for the Resilient Communities Fund;
35. Allow for the opening of retail stores for the sale of VQA wine, craft beer and cider and artisan distilleries that are not adjacent to their production facility;
36. Eliminate the 6.1% wine tax;
37. Remove the $7.5 million cap on the VQA Wine Support Program;
38. Create “Tourist Shops” that will sell 100% VQA wines;
39. Direct the LCBO to provide more shelf space for Ontario’s VQA wines, Ontario craft brewers and Ontario artisan distillers, and extend additional support measures for local producers from the LCBO to at least the end of 2020; ;
40. Create a provincial wage subsidy or live arts labour credit for hiring professional contracted musicians and/or actors;
41. Partner with municipalities to hire musicians to provide small-scale “cultural relief” events that comply with public health measures;
42. Increase funding for the Ontario Arts Council to provide viable virtual alternatives to live theatre performance to support arts organizations, including small rural art galleries;
43. Increase funding for the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund to encourage outdoor festivals;
44. Create a donation matching program to incentivize private-sector donations to charities;
45. Double the provincial portion of the Charitable Donation Tax Credit through to the end of 2021 and make the credit refundable;
46. Establish a relief provision that allows banks and bonding companies to financially support contractors while they deal with contractual and payment delays;
47. Provide grants or tax incentives for small businesses to take on apprentices, with a special focus on attracting more women and people of colour into the trades;
48. Improve the Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit by implementing a service standard, redefining eligible labour activities, and allowing for more collaboration between Ontario companies;
49. Allocate a higher proportion of tax credits for the cultural and media sector to Gaming;
50. Work to reduce interprovincial trade barriers;
51. Implement an economic stimulus package that helps to keep tourism businesses solvent over a twelve to eighteen-month period through a program of forgivable grants and loans;
52. Create a capital expenditure program and/or tax credit to help cover costs of PPE and implementing health and safety protocols including physical distancing;
53. Create a tax-based incentive for Ontarians to rediscover our province and support local;
54. Provide targeted financial support for attractions and tourism businesses that have been unable to open or fully open in Stage 3;
55. Help small and medium enterprises compete more effectively, by simplifying the RFP process, making decisions transparently, and flowing money quickly;
56. Encourage public sector organizations to broaden their search for vendors of record to include more small and medium-sized businesses;
57. Use public procurement to support small and medium enterprises;
58. Develop an intellectual property strategy to encourage capital investment in companies rich in intellectual property;
59. Support start-ups by improving access to capital and providing funding support for the Ontario Regional Innovation Centres;
60. Create a Health Innovation Fund to accelerate the development of health science companies in Ontario;
61. Provide tax incentives to encourage local investment for local and early-stage companies to help organizations scale-up;
62. Invest in a talent program to retain and train highly skilled labour in Ontario;
63. Fast-track the necessary upgrades to provide 2-way all day GO service throughout the Kitchener-Waterloo-Guelph corridor in order to retain talent and assist employees to have an affordable way to commute as the economy restarts;
64. With the guidance of public health officials, the government should reconsider the capacity restrictions in bowling alleys just as the Provincial Government has done with Cineplex, places of worship, banquet halls, and other businesses;
65. Establish a basic income program if the federal government does not extend the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to address the concern many tourism operators expressed about the ability of their employees to pay their bills if the CERB expires before the sector is able to reopen at pre-pandemic levels.
Recognizing the severe financial impact this pandemic has also had on the provincial government’s budget, the Green Party of Ontario urges the government to make smart and proactive financial investments in our small and medium-sized business sectors in order to ensure these businesses, the backbone of our communities and economy, weather this storm.
People want to buy local, but the small businesses and non-profits so vital to our cities and towns are struggling to stay afloat. Let’s help the shops, restaurants and community organizations at the heart of every downtown to get back on their feet and reopen safely. And let’s address the unique challenges faced by Black, women and Indigenous owned businesses in Ontario’s economic recovery efforts.
The last six months have been hard. Ontario has been through a lot.
But we are resilient. We will bounce back.
Together we can build back an even better Ontario.
 For the purposes of this report, the Committee had access to Draft Hansard; accordingly, some quotations of witness statements may not be exact.