Ontario Businesses Requiring Vaccine Passports See Diminished Sales: Survey

By Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
December 21, 2021 Updated: December 22, 2021

Businesses implementing Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate requirements are seeing decreased sales, according to a survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  

Over 60 percent of businesses requiring patrons to show COVID-19 vaccine passports are reporting lower sales “as a direct result” of the provincial government’s vaccination mandates, said Dan Kelly, president and chief executive officer of the CFIB. 

“Regardless of one’s views on vaccine passports, there is no doubt they’ve led to a further drop in sales for the small businesses required to use them,” Kelly wrote on social media, following the Ontario government’s Dec. 10 announcement to delay the lifting of the proof of vaccination mandate beyond the original schedule of Jan. 17, 2022.

Kelly also noted that the extension of the vaccination policy will correspond to increased losses among hospitality, arts, and recreation businesses. 

Overall, 74 percent of hospitality businesses and 66 percent of arts and recreation businesses reported being negatively affected by the vaccination passport mandate.

Lower sales were reported in 68 percent of hospitality businesses and 62 percent in arts and recreation. “Abuse or negative activity” also occurred among 62 percent of businesses in the hospitality sector and 55 percent in arts and recreation.

At least half the businesses in both sectors also reported additional costs for staffing and mobile phone hardware or internet services.  

Less than 10 percent of the businesses claimed higher sales following the introduction of the province’s COVID-19 vaccination policy. 

‘Bitter Pill’ for Businesses

On Dec. 17, the Ontario government further strengthened public health measures in response to the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant, which the CFIB described as a “bitter pill” for many businesses to swallow.

“Many of the businesses restricted today have lost over a year’s worth of business to government closures. To be limited again during one of the most important times of the year is a bitter pill to swallow,” the organization said in a statement issued on Dec. 17.

“Today’s measures will do nothing to allay the fears that have kept many consumers home, while businesses remain open.”

The CFIB noted that only 35 percent of Ontario’s small businesses have reached normal revenue levels for this time of year, while their COVID-19-related debts have climbed to a staggering average of $190,000, with the result that most are “losing money every day they are open.” 

In a separate statement, CFIB said pressures on some small businesses were alleviated when the federal government introduced Bill C-2. The legislation included provisions that provide monetary aid to workers affected by COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, while giving wage and rent subsidies of up to 75 percent to eligible businesses, such as those in the hard-hit hospitality and tourism sectors. 

However, the CFIB said it remains “deeply concerned” that the majority of small businesses needing financial help are excluded from receiving pandemic relief under Bill C-2. 

“A full 80 percent of small firms in need of financial support will no longer qualify for wage or rent subsidies due to the new programs’ high thresholds,” the group said. 

“As long as there are COVID-related restrictions imposed on their activities businesses should have access to government support programs and governments should do everything possible to avoid imposing cost increases.”

On Dec. 21, CFIB and Restaurants Canada issued a joint statement to all the country’s premiers, urging them to bring back financial support to the majority of small businesses that do not qualify for the restructured benefits. 

“Put frankly, tens of thousands of small firms across Canada will receive no support from governments while government restrictions dramatically reduce their ability to serve customers and public health warnings frighten many consumers into staying home,” the statement said.

The coalition called on the federal government to provide additional small business grants, return the wage and rent subsidy to the spring 2021 level, reopen the Canada Emergency Business Account loan program with larger loans, and ensure that new businesses also qualify for relief programs. 

“We urge you to ensure public health officials do not heighten the panic and fear among the public. We urge you to reconsider new or existing restrictions. We urge you to lift restrictions at their earliest opportunity.”

Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.