Niagara's NDP MPPs call on government to help restaurants and bars as new rules come into effect


Niagara's NDP MPPs are asking the Ontario government to provide immediate financial help for restaurants and bars.

The politicians say the sector directly accounts for 13% of all jobs in Niagara.

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates, St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens, and Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch writing a letter to Premier Ford saying while new dining restrictions are being put into place in Niagara tomorrow, businesses need help to avoid bankruptcies or closures.

Starting this weekend Niagara Public Health is putting new rules into effect limiting the people you sit with to members of your own household or essential caregivers at bars, restaurants, wineries, breweries and banquet halls.

The Ontario government will move Niagara into the 'orange-restrict' level as of Monday November 16th, limiting dining to four people per table - down from the previous six.

The orange level also means establishments can't serve alcohol after 9 p.m. and must close at 10 p.m.

There is also a capacity limit of 50 people indoors.

Here is the letter:

Doug Ford, Premier
Premier's Office
Room 281
Legislative Building, Queen's Park

Premier Ford,
We are writing to you today to request that the Province provide immediate financial support for Niagara’s restaurants and bars which directly account for 13% of all jobs in Niagara, which does not include the ancillary benefits of this sector to our entertainment and agricultural sectors.
As you know, our Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, initiated a new dining policy for restaurants and bars in Niagara using his powers under Section 22 of Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act. The new policy stipulates that patrons may only dine with members of their household or persons essential to maintaining physical and mental health. Given our reliance on Dr. Hirji’s expertise and insight during these very difficult times we feel that any such decision was made by him through very careful and thoughtful consideration. While Dr. Hirji does have jurisdiction over health matters, he does not have the ability to provide financial relief for the businesses who may suffer because of this policy designed to halt the alarming and rapid spread of COVID-19 in Niagara. As the Premier of Ontario, you do have the ability to provide the financial relief these businesses needed to ensure this policy is as effective as possible without causing any bankruptcies or closures.
Given that this policy solely applies to Niagara right now, we are asking for you to immediately act and provide specific relief for Niagara based businesses who are doing their part to address this crisis and abiding by these measures. Specifically, we are requesting immediate financial support for any restaurant affected by this public health decision to ensure that there are no layoffs, no foreclosures and no mountains of debt which become insurmountable. The closure of these restaurants and subsequent job losses would be devastating to our Region and cannot be accepted. You must act now to protect these business owners and employees who are doing their very best to ensure guests are as safe as possible.
We cannot express enough how scared business owners are during this period. Most of them have done their very best to be part of the massive community effort to stop COVID-19. We are requesting that you act, as Dr. Hirji did, to provide an immediate subsidy to ensure that while this public health order is in effect that no Niagara restaurant or bar owner face financial hardship.
If you require any help whatsoever in this, please do not hesitate to reach out. We have many restaurants who feel they cannot survive without considerable help and if you would like to speak with them directly we would be happy to facilitate those discussions.
MPP, St. Catharines
JEFF BURCH MPP, Niagara Centre
MPP, Niagara Falls