Business group denounces new Ontario retail rule, others praise extended COVID-19 testing

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Business criticizes new provincial foreclosure rules in Ontario, saying they are unfair for small businesses.
For the 28 days starting Thursday, non-essential retail stores in Ontario can only open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Tuesday that grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and gas stations could keep their normal hours.

The new rules come after the province’s latest models suggest that without new restrictions, daily COVID-19 deaths could double by the end of February, Ontario Premier Doug Ford warning that the system health is “on the verge of collapse”.

CFIB President Dan Kelly said he was concerned the new policies limiting hours of operation could further encumber essential retailers like Walmart stores or Amazon warehouses. (Walmart Canada has said it will comply with government restrictions and continue to use a custom app to count capacity, as well as perform temperature checks for associates and other wellness metrics.)

“We believe that allowing small businesses to serve one or three customers at a time would actually take the strain off big box stores,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the policies announced by Ford’s government are confusing for non-essential retailers, who are told they can stay open with limited hours even as their customers are told non-essential travel is totally over. prohibited.

“I don’t understand why a small bookstore can’t hand the book – outside – to a customer after eight o’clock. But you can line up at Costco and buy it, ”Kelly said.

“If you send a product to a third party (service) delivery, for example by post or courier, the… restriction will not exist. But if you, the business owner, deliver it on the way home to your nearby customer, that is prohibited. And we’re struggling to understand which planet this is helping to stop the spread of COVID. ”

Kelly says her group, which represents 42,000 Ontario businesses, is not calling for stores to open, but would like to see the restrictions closer to those enacted by British Columbia.

“Ford toast its relationship with small business owners,” Kelly said. “No province in Canada has locked down small retailers while allowing box stores to remain open. Not one. All have medical offices of health advisers at the provincial and municipal levels. ”

Yet other business groups have praised Ontario’s new policies.

Two groups in the construction industry have said new restrictions on their industry, similar to those seen last April, are necessary.

“Although the new restrictions are slowing the delivery of new housing for some projects, cases are at the point that all sectors and residents must be part of the solution,” the Building Industry and Land Development Association said in a joint statement and Ontario Home Builders Association.

“The Government of Ontario continues to have confidence in the construction industry to operate in a safe environment… We will continue to work with members to remind them of the immense responsibility that comes with being designated. a critical workplace under emergency orders.

The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Group applauded a policy it said would improve workplace safety by allowing better access to COVID-19 testing.

“The manufacturing sector has worked aggressively to introduce protocols and provide a safe working environment,” Dennis Darby, chief executive of the manufacturing group, said in a statement.

“Today’s announcement by Premier Ford that the industry could continue to operate during the pandemic while maintaining these standards is welcomed by manufacturers across the province.

Still, the rest of the supply chain could start to feel the effects of struggles for small retailers, as independent stores don’t order stock for fear there will be no customers, said Albert Stortchak, president of Broadview Danforth BIA in Toronto.

With Christmas stocks still languishing on the shelves and there is no end in sight, Stortchak said it can be difficult for local stores to watch big box retailers ‘eat their dinner’ .

“We are ready to act, to be responsible and to do our part,” Stortchak said.

“We’re not against big box stores (stores)… it’s just the inconsistency between big and small businesses.”

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