QUEEN’S PARK – A new report reveals Ontario’s tourism industry is not expected to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic until 2025. NDP tourism critic and St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens is pushing for a plan to protect local businesses and workers, and ensure that Ontario’s tourism sector can thrive.
“The Ontario tourism sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stevens. “Local businesses have faced an incredibly difficult few years and now the skyrocketing cost of living is making it more challenging for workers to remain in or return to the sector. The tourism sector continues to feel the pinch, and workers and businesses need support.”
Seven in 10 tourism businesses took on debt to survive COVID-related hardships, a joint report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Industry Association of Ontario revealed, according to news reports. The report offers several recommendations to help businesses survive, from the permanent extension of a staycation tax credit to a provincial strategy to provide affordable housing and transit for workers who are struggling to cope with the costs of living.
“To help Ontario tourism get back on track, the Ford government should extend the staycation tax credit,” said Wayne Gates, NDP MPP for Niagara Falls.
Gates first proposed the Travel Ontario Tax Credit in 2020, which would give families a $1,000 tax credit to visit qualifying tourism businesses in Ontario, including qualifying purchases at restaurants, hotels, outfitters, and attractions. The Ford government included aspects of Gates’ bill in the 2021 budget, but it was watered down so that Ontario residents could only write off up to 20 per cent of eligible expenses.
“The Ford government must ensure that a comprehensive strategy is in place for the Ontario tourism industry,” said Stevens. “These businesses and workers have been through so much in the past few years, and they need to know that we have their backs. The Ontario NDP will continue to push the Ford government to come up with a plan that protects their livelihood and businesses. We want to ensure that all Ontarians can continue to explore and enjoy our beautiful province - and support local businesses while they do.”