Lockdown a 'punch to the gut' for small businesses ahead of Christmas, CFIB says

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An organization that represents small business owners in Canada blasted the Ontario government on Friday, saying the decision to allow big box retailers to remain open during the impending lockdown while forcing smaller stores to close is a "direct punch to the gut."

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), an association that represents 110,000 small and medium-sized businesse across the country, said the news is devastating to business owners in Toronto and Peel Region.

"It is outrageous that today's restrictions once again create an unfair advantage for big box operators like Walmart and Costco, leaving Main Street retailers to shoulder the burden alone," the federation said in a statement.

"That large department stores can be open while small retailers are forced to close during the busiest season of the year is a direct punch to the gut of independent businesses."

The federation called on the province to develop a "Small Business First" retail strategy immediately that would allow small retailers to open, with limits on capacity, during the holiday shopping season.

"Many businesses in these regions have already lost three to five months of their year from government shutdowns. Without immediate and full assistance, many won't survive. Seeing any of these businesses close permanently would be a loss for owners, employees, communities and Ontario's overall recovery effort," the federation said.

The organization also called on the province to provide full financial support to small businesses to ensure they can reopen again, instead of close down for good, following the lockdown.

"Current supports are a drop in the bucket — the province must open up its wallet to support small businesses through the lockdown period," the federation said.

"We urge the government to make the data behind this decision public to demonstrate that shopping and other business activities are the source of rising COVID-19 numbers," it added.

"Too many business owners feel they are being unfairly targeted so the government can send a signal to the public that they need to take the pandemic seriously."