The Ontario government is investing $300 million into restaurants and small businesses to help offset fixed costs, such as property taxes, hydro and gas bills.
This news comes after last week’s announcement to introduce additional public health measures to Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel.
“This is an extremely difficult time for small businesses, especially the ones in the hospitality and entertainment sectors,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford during a press conference at Mamma Martino’s Restaurant in Etobicoke. “To support them during these tough times, our government is making millions available to provide relief for fixed costs. I’m also calling on everyone in Ontario to rally around our small businesses by ordering takeout or delivery. Together, we can make a huge difference.”
“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 food service sector, is so critical to Ontario’s recovery,” said Minster Sarkaria in a release.
In addition to the support for fixed costs, Ford announced that the government is working with federal partners to extend the commercial rent relief program, and wage subsidy until June 2021, as well as providing an additional $20,000 for a total of 60,000 in interest-free loans for small businesses. More information on this to be released soon.
The government will also support small businesses through the Main Street Recovery Plan. The main pillars of this plan include:
- Committing to permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order.
- Permanently allowing 24/7 deliveries to restaurants.
- Supporting the distribution of local food and food products by increasing the range of products sold at the Ontario Food Terminal.
- Ending outdated and duplicative rules so businesses can focus on their work.
- Modernizing regulations to allow businesses to innovate and meet the challenges of today.
- 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.
- This service has been implemented in Lincoln already (see here).
- Launching a new portal to assist small businesses to quickly find the supports and information they need.
In today’s briefing, Ford also called on third-party delivery services, such as UberEats to reduce the commission rates charged to restaurants impacted by the new health measures. “It’s time for you to do your part, we need you to help out these mom-and-pop shops right now…we can’t have restaurants paying as much as 30 per cent commission to have their food delivered right now…please do the right thing in these difficult times.”
Additionally, he called on the people of Ontario to help support small businesses through these difficult times.
“If you can, if you have the means, please shop local, buy Ontario made, it has never been more important to support our own. It is as simple as ordering takeout. If each of us ordered takeout, even at least once a week, that’s millions of dollars to support our mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, and small businesses.,” he said, adding, “It can be the difference between a line cook getting a shift or not, it can be the difference between a delivery driver making rent or not, it can be the difference between a family keeping their businesses open or closing for good. ”