On March 24, 2021, the 2021 provincial Ontario Budget was released, and it includes a number of measures pertinent to Ontario’s foodservice and hospitality industries.
Notably, the Ontario budget announced the extension of an existing support grant for small businesses, as well as a new financial support specifically for tourism and hospitality.
Ontario Small Business Support Grant
The government has announced an additional round of support provided through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. Small businesses who have been determined as eligible recipients of the grant will automatically be entitled to a second payment equal to the first payment they received. They will not need to apply again to receive this additional funding.
Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant
The government is introducing the new Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant, which will provide an estimated $100 million in one time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses.
Eligible small businesses, including hotels and motels, can apply for support to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19 as well as to help create and protect jobs. Businesses must demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline and have less than 100 employees to qualify.
Eligible businesses can apply at www.Ontario.ca/COVIDsupport.
ORHMA responds to Ontario Budget
The Ontario Restaurant, Hotel, and Motel Association notes the pandemic has brought “significant damage” to hospitality operations and its employees and that most indicators point to a minimum five-year income recovery period with implications lasting beyond this timeline.
ORHMA adds that “while we applaud the government for its effort to introduce and enhance support for the hospitality industry,” the association is “disappointed that many key and critical recommendations were overlooked” and omitted from the 2021 Ontario Budget.”
ORHMA notes that these recommendations had been prioritized by its members and collaboratively by other hospitality organizations.
Municipal Property Assessment
ORHMA says it was expecting an announcement for a retroactive assessment of all properties to capture depressed business revenues of 2020 and adjust taxation accordingly. It says it is disappointed that was not provided.
The association notes the government has been conducting a Property Assessment and Taxation Review to explore opportunities to:
- Enhance the accuracy and stability of property assessments
- Support a competitive business environment
- Strengthen the governance and accountability of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)
ORHMA adds that input is being sought from municipalities, taxpayers, industry associations, and other interested stakeholders. It notes that the 2020 budget postponed the property tax reassessment scheduled for 2020 for the 2021 taxation year to maintain stability in the context of the emerging pandemic. It has once again postponed that reassessment with the aim that the extended delay will “provide certainty for businesses and residents and enable municipalities to focus their attention on responding to the challenges posed by COVID‐19.”
The government says the delay will not have a financial impact on municipalities, as MPAC will continue to maintain the assessment roll and ensure that it is updated to reflect changes such as new construction.
Beverage Alcohol Price Reduction
ORHMA insists Ontario should have followed the lead of British Columbia to support Ontario’s licensees by reducing beverage alcohol products by 20 per cent as compared to consumer prices. “Not only would this have been a fair and ethical decision but it would have greatly supported the province’s restaurants through a very tough recovery journey. It’s the road ahead that price reduction will support. It’s a lifeline not only for now but for the future.”