CFIB Questions how Shuttering Small Businesses and Sending Crowds to Walmart and Costco Reduces COVID-19

In the wake of the lockdown restrictions placed on businesses across Toronto and Peel Region this week, and to ensure fairness in the application of critical services rules, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling on the Government of Ontario to implement a “Small Business First” COVID-19 Retail Policy to help small retailers safely salvage the remainder of the holiday season.

The number of available store-fronts in Downtown Oakville is alarming

“We’ve already heard from hundreds of concerned small retailers who feel the lockdown restrictions have created a massive unfair advantage for many big, multi-national corporations,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “The province needs to fix this imbalance immediately and rely on small businesses as part of the solution to help keep Ontarians from gathering in large groups. The current rules close small bookstores, florists and lighting stores to instore business, but allow customers to line up at Costco and Walmart to buy these same items. If it is dangerous to buy a book at an independent bookseller, why isn’t it dangerous at Costco?”

To ensure fairness in the application of critical service rules, CFIB recommends the following additional measures to ensure small retailers can safely serve a limited number of customers. These measures can co-exist with the current rules allowing some critical goods retailers to remain open with 50 per cent capacity. 

Pick any block in Downtown Oakville , Ontario and you will see boarded up heritage buildings where strong indie retailers once thrived.

CFIB recommends that the Government of Ontario:

  • Allows all non-essential small retailers to open to in-store sales, but with very limited capacity for customers and public-facing staff
  • Limits customers to three per store for a fixed time for personalized shopping
  • Limits the store to three public-facing staff to help customers shop as efficiently as possible from a safe distance
  • Encourages pre-booking appointments, to avoid long lines outside the store
  • Requires all businesses to sign the POST Promise before opening in-store operations
  • Still encourages customers to shop by curbside pickup or delivery as preferred means

“A second round of lockdowns is a crushing blow for Ontario’s retail sector,” added Ryan Mallough, CFIB’s director, Ontario. “Losing the holiday shopping season will mean permanent closure for many small retailers. We believe a Small Business First policy can help them survive, while reducing community spread of COVID-19 if all Ontarians buy in.” 

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (42,000 in Ontario) across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at