Councillor Josh Matlow

Standing with Small Business Owners

Check Out What’s Open in Toronto-St. Paul’s and Find Out How to Donate to Your Favorite Business!:

Our Toronto-St. Paul’s community is home to some of the most unique and remarkable  shops, bars and restaurants. Many of them do online sales and food take out and delivery. The following BIAs have put together a list of businesses that remain open amidst this crisis- Dupont By the Castle BIAOakwood Village BIAEglinton Way BIAMt. Pleasant Village BIA and Hillcrest Village BIA.

In case you’re looking for a way to support your favorite local shop right at home, you may want to consider making a monetary donation to them (if they’re listed) on Distantly. For business owners looking to create a profile, you may do so by clicking “Add My Business”, located on the top right section of their home webpage.

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Have Your Say: Expanding Restaurant Patios This Summer Season:

Yesterday, I held a virtual meeting with 13 of our Midtown Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) to touchbase on the challenges each individual BIA is currently facing and will continue to face in the future, each BIA’s priorities and more importantly, how I can support them and their efforts.

While a number of ideas are being explored by my office and City Staff, such as opening pop-up shops in vacant storefronts, relieving certain permit fees, making sidewalk art easier, tweaking both the ShopHERE and City’s facade grant programs and much more, one particular idea that BIAs mentioned that would help keep businesses alive was the possibility of expanding restaurant patios for this upcoming summer season.

The idea, that is being adopted in places around the world, is to use some curb lanes in Toronto for outdoor dining. While allowing for safe distances, it could create fun and active streetscapes, support our local businesses that would have to cap their indoor capacity and meaningfully contribute to our happiness and quality of life.

Ultimately, they would all be done on a trial basis. If one works, it should continue. If one doesn’t, it can be removed. Every decision should be based on the reality we experience. As a consequence of this pandemic, our local businesses are in desperate need of our support.

I welcome all local residents, business owners and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in our ward to reach out to my office and provide feedback as to where they would like the City to investigate the possibility of expanded patios. Please email me at councillor_matlow@toronto.ca or reply to this e-newsletter. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Excerpt from May 22nd E-newsletter:

I speak with small and medium sized business owners every day of this crisis, and many of of them are financially devastated. The challenges and struggles that our local businesses face demonstrate the need for every level of government to step up to support them.

Our community’s business owners have been trying to the best of their abilities to adapt to our constantly changing environment. While our favorite local shops are working to protect our health and safety, let’s shop local to support them. We need our main streets to survive this pandemic. Please join me in sharing the following graphic with your family, friends and neighbors to remind them to shop local and use the hashtag: #SaveMidtownMainStreets.

As I’m sure many of you know, one of the greatest challenges small businesses owners face is their inability to pay for rent. That is why I’m advocating to Minister Sarkaria – Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction – to request immediate and direct rent relief for businesses. Please see my letter here. I know that many small business owners aren’t looking for a handout, but a lifeline.

While I believe that direct rent relief is needed, Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Ford have announced the new Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA). The OCECRA will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75 per cent and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months. For more information, please click here. I recognize that many landlords may not feel inclined to apply for this program, and I believe the Province should implement a moratorium on small business evictions until the recovery is well underway.

•  Update on Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy:
As you know, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) helps businesses keep employees on the payroll and encourages employers to re-hire workers previously laid off, and better positions businesses to bounce back following the crisis. Today, the Federal government announced that they will be extending the CEWS by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. Extending the program will give workers greater confidence that they will continue to get the support they need during these difficult times. The Federal government will consult with key business and labour representatives over the next month on potential adjustments to the program, including the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold, to further incentivize jobs and growth. Any potential changes following the consultation will have as key objectives to maximize employment, ensure the CEWS reflects the immediate needs of businesses, and support the post-crisis economic recovery.

•  Regional Relief & Recovery Fund:
This past week, the Federal government announced the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, which is specifically targeted to those that may require additional help to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic but have been unable to access existing support measures. For further details about how to apply, please click here.

•  City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade:
The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are partnering to deliver you a one-stop information centre where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenges you’re facing. For more details, I welcome you to click here.

•    Expansion of Digital Main Street Program:
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for Digital Main Street in Toronto has been tripled. The budget for the program will go from $240,000 to $825,000 this year. The funding will be used to expand the Digital Service Squad to support Toronto’s main street businesses through one-on-one virtual support. Since its launch, the Digital Main Street program has engaged more than 6,000 Toronto businesses and provided direct one-on-one support to 2,159 businesses, delivering more than 9,200 hours of support, training and education. Prior to working with the Digital Main Street program, 30 per cent of businesses had no online presence. Local businesses can complete the Digital Main Street onboarding process and receive a free Digital Assessment and recommended to-do list here.

•    The City of Toronto’s BIA Financial Incentives:
In case your BIA has not yet been made aware of the various financial incentives offered by the City of Toronto, I’d welcome you to check out the following link, which could provide you funding for commercial facades, streetscape improvements, outside murals, etc.

  •   BusinessTO Support Centre:
    The City’s new BusinessTO Support Centrewill be available for all sectors, including not-for-profit, creative/cultural, manufacturing, technology, retail, hospitality, tourism, main street businesses and consulting services.The centre will help businesses apply for government support programs such as:
    •    Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program
    •    Canada’s Work-Sharing Program
    •    Canada’s Emergency Business Account ProgramIn addition to this virtual one-on-one support, the BusinessTO Support Centre will offer a weekly webinar series to provide information about these available government programs and the requirements to apply. The centre will also inform businesses about how they can support the City’s COVID-19 response and provide general business support and information about other City programs. Sign up to schedule a conversation with a business advisor by video or phone, and a business advisor will be in contact within 24 hours.•    ShopHERE Program:
    ShopHERE will provide Toronto independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store, which will be built and launched for free in just a matter of days. Hands-on support will be provided throughout the entire process from volunteer website developers and marketing and business students. ShopHERE is supported by a number of community and corporate partners, including Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Shopify, Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, Facebook, eBay, Ritual, Trufan, eShipper, Snapchat, Magnet and Schulich School of Business – York University.

    The program will provide Toronto’s independent businesses and artists with:
    • A template to develop an online store on Shopify, customized with their information, branding, logo, etc.
    • Hands-on assistance setting up and launching their online store
    • Training and support for digital marketing, shipping and operating an online store
    • Access to free tools and online advertising credits to support the launch of their online store.

    An estimated 49,501 Toronto business, 7,371 of them restaurants, bars or cafes, are eligible for the ShopHERE program. The initial program is available now through the end of August, and the City’s goal is to develop 3,000 online stores for Toronto independent businesses and artists.

    To help develop the stores, volunteers from Toronto’s technology community are contributing their time. A number of companies have already agreed to participate, including Global Skills Hub, Scotiabank, General Assembly, Brain Station, Juno, FreshBooks, NEXT Canada, TechTO and TribalScale. Toronto tech companies with an interest in supporting small independent businesses and artists are encouraged to assist if they can. The ShopHERE program will be delivered via the Digital Main Street platform. Toronto independent businesses and artists can sign up for their free online store here.

    •    Ritual ONE:
    Ritual ONE provides restaurants and food services, such as grocers, butchers and bakeries with an easy way to accept digital orders from their own website and social media accounts. Onsite contactless digital ordering is also available. Customers will be able to choose between pickup and delivery. Businesses that sign up for Ritual ONE by June 1 will receive the service free for life and will not pay any commission or monthly subscription fees on Ritual ONE orders. Businesses will be provided with a dedicated expert to help support them during the onboarding process. This offer is also available to existing restaurants in the Ritual marketplace. Standard credit card processing rates would still need to be paid. Toronto businesses can sign up for Ritual ONE here. Businesses enrolled in the City’s ShopHERE program will also be eligible for Ritual ONE and a lifetime exemption from commission and subscription fees.

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Excerpt from Apirl 24th E-newsletter:

•    Rent Relief:
As I’m sure many of you know, one of the greatest challenges small businesses owners face is their inability to pay for rent. That is why, I’m advocating to Minister Sarkaria- Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, to request for immediate and direct rent relief for businesses. Please see my letter here. I know that many small business owners aren’t looking for a handout, but a lifeline.

While I believe that direct rent relief is needed, today, Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Ford announced the new Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA).The OCECRA will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75 per cent and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months.

The government is also providing further details on the program:

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
  • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.
  • Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

As part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the government has implemented a series of cash flow supports amounting to $10 billion to help support jobs and the economy, including:

  • Doubling the Employer Health Tax exemption for 2020, cutting taxes by $355 million, benefiting roughly 57,000 employers;
  • Eliminating penalties and interest to businesses who miss filing or remittance deadlines for various provincially administered taxes for five months starting April 1, 2020, providing up to $6 billion in cashflow for about 100,000 Ontario businesses;
  • Postponing the planned property tax reassessment for 2021, providing stability for Ontario’s property taxpayers;
  • Deferring the upcoming quarterly (June 30) remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, providing municipalities with the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals of over $1.8 billion to local residents and businesses;
  • Implementing the new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit for businesses that make eligible capital investments in designated regions of the province where employment growth has significantly lagged behind below the provincial average.

Ontario has also suspended time-of-use electricity rates for eligible small businesses, as well as residential and farm time-of-use customers, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour, for 24 hours per day, seven days a week for 45 days, for all time-of-use customers, who make up the majority of electricity consumers in the province. By switching to a fixed off-peak rate, time-of-use customers will see rate reductions of over 50 per cent compared to on-peak rates.

•    Update on Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA):
I continue to hear from numerous small businesses expressing their frustrations with the eligibility criteria for the Federal Government’s CEBA assistance package. Earlier yesterday, the Prime Minister shared that they’ll be expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9, 2020, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses. For more details, please check out this news release here.

•  City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade:
The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are partnering to deliver you a one-stop information center where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenges you’re facing. For more details, I welcome you to click here.

•  BDC, Canada’s Bank of Entrepreneurs: New Small & Medium-Sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee Program:
The Federal Government, along with BDC, Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, and Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s export credit agency, have launched the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in additional lending. The new program is part of a series of measures announced by the Federal Government to support small and medium-sized businesses dealing with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details, please click here.

•    Expansion of Digital Main Street Program:
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for Digital Main Street in Toronto has been tripled. The budget for the program will go from $240,000 to $825,000 this year. The funding will be used to expand the Digital Service Squad to support Toronto’s main street businesses through one-on-one virtual support. Since its launch, the Digital Main Street program has engaged more than 6,000 Toronto businesses and provided direct one-on-one support to 2,159 businesses, delivering more than 9,200 hours of support, training and education. Prior to working with the Digital Main Street program, 30 per cent of businesses had no online presence. Local businesses can complete the Digital Main Street onboarding process and receive a free Digital Assessment and recommended to-do list here.

•    The City of Toronto’s BIA Financial Incentives:
In case your BIA has not yet been made aware of the various financial incentives offered by the City of Toronto, I’d welcome you to check out the following link, which could provide you funding for commercial facades, streetscape improvements, outside murals, etc.

•    Survey Results from City of Toronto & Toronto Region Board of Trade:
New data from the City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade’s (the Board) joint Business Insights Questionnaire (BIQ) sheds new light on the shifting challenges that face the region’s business community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents highlighted the need for commercial rent relief and supply chain security as among their key concerns. Results also emphasized the evolving nature of the crisis facing businesses, and the need for governments to react quickly and efficiently in providing them with the tools they need to stay afloat. For further details, please click here.

•    BusinessTO Support Centre:
The City’s new BusinessTO Support Centre will be available for all sectors, including not-for-profit, creative/cultural, manufacturing, technology, retail, hospitality, tourism, main street businesses and consulting services.The centre will help businesses apply for government support programs such as:
•    Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program
•    Canada’s Work-Sharing Program
•    Canada’s Emergency Business Account ProgramIn addition to this virtual one-on-one support, the BusinessTO Support Centre will offer a weekly webinar series to provide information about these available government programs and the requirements to apply. The centre will also inform businesses about how they can support the City’s COVID-19 response and provide general business support and information about other City programs. Sign up to schedule a conversation with a business advisor by video or phone, and a business advisor will be in contact within 24 hours._______________________________________________________________________________________________

Excerpt from April 17th E-newsletter:

I speak with small business owners every day of this crisis. So many of them are financially devastated by this crisis. From shops located on Mt. Pleasant, Yonge, Spadina, St. Clair, Oakwood or along Eglinton, the challenges and struggles that our local businesses face demonstrates the need for every level of government to step up. Attached below you will find a comprehensive update on a number of items that have been put in place to support our local small businesses.

•    Rent Relief:
As I’m sure many of you know, one of the greatest challenges small businesses owners face is their inability to pay for rent. That is why, I’m advocating to Minister Sarkaria- Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, to request for immediate and direct rent relief for businesses. Please see my letter here. I know that many small business owners aren’t looking for a handout, but a lifeline.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. The Federal Government is working with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic and they will have more details to share soon. For more details, please check out his news release here.

•    Update on Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA):
I continue to hear from numerous small businesses expressing their frustrations with the eligibility criteria for the Federal Government’s CEBA assistance package. Earlier yesterday, the Prime Minister shared that they’ll be expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9, 2020, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses. For more details, please check out this news release here.

•  City of Toronto and Toronto Region Board of Trade:
The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are partnering to deliver you a one-stop information center where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenges you’re facing. For more details, I welcome you to click here.

•  BDC, Canada’s Bank of Entrepreneurs: New Small & Medium-Sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee Program:
The Federal Government, along with BDC, Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, and Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s export credit agency, have launched the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in additional lending. The new program is part of a series of measures announced by the Federal Government to support small and medium-sized businesses dealing with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details, please click here

•    Expansion of Digital Main Street Program:
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for Digital Main Street in Toronto has been tripled. The budget for the program will go from $240,000 to $825,000 this year. The funding will be used to expand the Digital Service Squad to support Toronto’s main street businesses through one-on-one virtual support. Since its launch, the Digital Main Street program has engaged more than 6,000 Toronto businesses and provided direct one-on-one support to 2,159 businesses, delivering more than 9,200 hours of support, training and education. Prior to working with the Digital Main Street program, 30 per cent of businesses had no online presence. Local businesses can complete the Digital Main Street onboarding process and receive a free Digital Assessment and recommended to-do list here.

•    The City of Toronto’s BIA Financial Incentives:
In case your BIA has not yet been made aware of the various financial incentives offered by the City of Toronto, I’d welcome you to check out the following link, which could provide you funding for commercial facades, streetscape improvements, outside murals, etc. 

•    TABIA Calls for All Small Business Owners & Landlords to Fill Out Survey:
As many of you know TABIA has been working closely with BIAs’ across Toronto to voice the needs of small businesses and challenges you are all facing in light of COVID-19. A quick survey has been put together to get a pulse of who was able to make April’s rent and what challenges you foresee in the coming months. Please take a moment to complete this survey – it shouldn’t take more then 2 minutes– your input is very important to help us understand how Toronto small businesses are doing and to push accurate recommendations and findings to all levels of government through our advocacy efforts. We also ask that you forward this email to your landlord/tenant.

As the needs of landlords and small business owners are different, two similar, but separate surveys, have been created. If you are a business who owns your own building, you can decide which to complete (or respond to both if you feel it’s applicable).

Landlords: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/COVID-19landlordsurvey 
Tenants/Small Business: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/COVID-10tenantsurvey

For those of you who have already completed the survey, thank-you. Our combined efforts will take us forward. 

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Excerpt from April 4th E-newsletter:

I speak with small business owners every day of this crisis. So many of them are financially devastated by this crisis. From shops located on Mt. Pleasant Avenue, Yonge Street, Spadina Avenue, St. Clair Avenue East and West, Oakwood Avenue or along Eglinton Avenue East and West, the challenges and struggles that our local businesses face demonstrates the need for every level of government to step up. This past week, I participated in a round table conference call, hosted by the Yonge & St. Clair BIA, with over 30 merchants to discuss the personal and financial impacts of COVID-19 and helpful ways each of our governments can provide the necessary and immediate support they need.

I’m very supportive of the efforts of our Mayor for assembling the Economic Support and Recovery Task Force. This initiative extends the grace period for property tax and utility bills, pledges no layoffs of City employees due to the cancellation of City programs, and establishes a contingency fund to support businesses and affected groups, and more. As of yesterday, the City launched a survey inviting business owners to share how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their business, and what information or supports they and their employees need. I also believe the Provincial and Federal Governments should create plans that aren’t loans or deferrals, but immediate financial relief to prevent these small business owners, who are seeing little to no revenue coming in now, from being buried in debt that they might never get out of.

To learn more about the business supports already announced through our Federal Government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, I welcome you to click here. I’d like to specifically note that today, Prime Minister Trudeau is increasing the small business wage subsidy to 75 per cent, as opposed to the proposed 10% subsidy, for qualifying businesses. Lastly, to learn more about how our Provincial Government is supporting our local businesses, please click here.

The Toronto Police Service have asked that I share with you a poster with many helpful tips on how to protect your business property. During the challenges of the current pandemic, many businesses have been forced to close for extended periods. This creates opportunity for potential thieves to take advantage and potentially break into your business properties.

If you have any information regarding a criminal matter, please report it directly to the police. You can do so online at: www.torontopolice.on.ca/core or my telephone at 416-808-2222. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or online at: www.222tips.com
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Letter to the Province Regarding the Need for An Immediate Rent Relief Plan for Small Businesses and Commercial Landlords

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
7th Floor, 56 Wellesley St. W
Toronto,ON
M7A 2E7

March 31st, 2020

Re: Rent support for small business owners and Landlords

Dear Minister Sarkaria,

I am writing to you as the Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction on behalf of many small business owners, and their Landlords, who are concerned about being able to pay or receive rent tomorrow, April 1st. While the health and safety of our residents are of course the top priority, we must also work to ensure that the drivers of our local economy are in a position to contribute when we make it to the other side of the COVID -19 crisis.

While the federal government has agreed to provide significant wage subsidies, and other measures, to ensure that small businesses are able to retain their workforce, little is being done to ensure that the owners, and their landlords, are able to stay afloat during the pandemic. I have heard from far too many business owners that they will be evicted if they are unable to pay rent, forcing them to shutter their doors and lay off workers.

Please provide small business owners and their landlords with:

  • Immediate Rent Relief: small business owners need direct support to pay their rent now and during the course of the pandemic. Rent deferrals, while appreciated, only delay financial issues and add to the mounting debt that many small business owners are accruing during this crisis.

Rent support from your government for small businesses will help ensure that our main streets return more vibrant than ever on the other side of this pandemic.

Thank you for your continued work to support small businesses.

Sincerely,
Councillor Josh Matlow
City Councillor Toronto – St. Paul’s
www.joshmatlow.ca

2020-06-11T03:58:29+00:00
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