John’s Update (May 5)

Dear Neighbours,

For two months now, Sarah Yi has been working 11 hours a day, seven days a week. Struggling to keep her business alive.

The pandemic is hard on everyone, but for some it’s worse than for others. Restaurant owners and other small retailers, for example, don’t just lose income; many risk losing the businesses they’ve poured years of work and all their savings into.

Sarah’s revenue is down 60 percent. “More work, less money,” she told me, sounding surprisingly upbeat, when I arrived for takeout at her Yonge St. restaurant, Chicken Monster. She brought the Korean fried chicken out to my car and, as an added precaution, wore a mask.

Part-time staff have been laid off, leaving just Sarah and her husband. But the hard work doesn’t concern her as much as the worry about which month she won’t make the rent. A federal/provincial program that would partially cover commercial tenants for three months doesn’t help her; it requires landlords to share in the pain, and many aren’t willing to do that.

A similarly uncertain fate awaits hundreds of Willowdale small business owners. Whether or not they survive depends on their own ingenuity, how long this goes on, and…us. If you want them to still be around when business returns to normal, please look for ways to support them now.

City Council has passed a resolution calling on the Province to place a moratorium on commercial evictions, as it has for residential renters. And last week, MP Ali Ehsassi, MPP Stan Cho and I sent a joint letter to a group of landlords asking them to participate in the federal/provincial program that provides 50 percent of commercial rents for three months, provided the other half is covered equally by the tenant and the landlord.

How can we help? My office is trying to compile lists of local independent businesses that you can order from online or by phone and which provide safe pickup or delivery. Please help us add to the list by letting us know about other local business you think we should support.

Today’s music video pledges undying loyalty in a different context, but it seemed to fit. To watch, click here.

— John