As the Covid19 pandemic swept the globe, local businesses across Canada were forced to shut their doors to foot traffic and many continue to struggle with day to day declines in revenue. The onus is now on the community to come together and one way to offer support and make a genuine difference is through the purchasing of gift cards that will be available to use once these establishments re-open.
When exactly this will happen remains up in the air but, no matter how far into the future, you can rest easy knowing that, as long as the business still stands, they are legally obliged to honour the cash value of your card.
According to CBC News, Ontario banned gift card expiry dates in 2007, under a consumer protection regulation established during the McGuinty government. “Cash equivalent gift cards will never expire,” said then Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips.
Under the new regulations, businesses will only be permitted to charge additional fees for the customization of a gift card or to replace a lost or stolen card. For example, a Visa prepaid gift card comes with a date when the card will expire, but this does not apply to the funds. If the card expires, you may request issuance of a card with the remaining balance, minus a card issuance fee that will be deducted.
According to Statistics Canada (2017), there are 1.14 million small businesses across the country, accounting for 97.9 per cent of the country’s employers, so it’s no surprise that the impacts are immeasurable. Women’s clothing store Doree’s Habit, in Almonte, shared some details of their financial burden in an Instagram post that reads, “It’s hard because there is close to $150,000 worth of inventory sitting in the shop, my staff no longer have hours…my rent is still due and I don’t know when I’ll be able to reopen.”
The ByWard Market Business Improvement Area (BIA) is urging residents to, whenever they can, visit local small businesses or consider buying gift cards for future use. “They’ll receive the revenue now while foot traffic is down and you’ll have something to look forward to!”