The Ontario Small Business Support Grant is may have received tens of thousands of applications in its first week of availability, but it is not offering support widely enough by omitting Ontario hotels.
That’s the view of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA). The association wrote to Ontario’s Minister of Finance on behalf of Ontario’s accommodation sector to request that accommodation establishments such as hotels be eligible to apply for the grant.
Restaurants and bars were among the many businesses listed as theoretically eligible for the support, but hotels and other accommodations were not.
Ontario hotels have not been ordered to close like indoor dining has. However, says ORHMA, mandated restrictions including prohibitions on travel have resulted in a huge fall in business and revenues for most of 2020 and into 2021.
ORHMA’s letter to Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy notes the association was pleased to see “several positive initiatives” within the hospitality sector result from the province’s fall budget. However, it had previously written to Premier Doug Ford urging that a more generous support system be implemented for foodservice and hospitality.
It continued those calls in its January 18 letter.
Foodservice and accommodations have both been “devastated” by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, say ORHMA. The letter urges the province to reconsider the omission of Ontario hotels and motels from the Small Business Support Grant.
“They are, once again, left out of provincial pandemic relief that is offered to other businesses,” says the letter, noting that they were also left off the list for the recent $600 million fixed-cost business support announced in late 2020 (except for meeting rooms and restaurant space located within a hotel property).
“The recent province-wide shutdown announcement is crippling
the sector,” continues ORHMA. “Cash reserves are rapidly depleting and many businesses are hanging on the edge to survive.”
While the hotel community is supportive of government direction and continues to operate with the required safety protocols, the latest shutdown is “detrimental” to the industry, says the association. “In these struggling times every dollar received can make a difference in keeping doors open.”