Harper Falls Short on Toronto Businesses’ G20 Claims

Update: see previous posts – June 10, 2011 G20 – Final Public Hearing for the Toronto Police’s Civilian Review, June 10, 2011 G20 – Another Arrest, June 7, 2011 G20 Update – Who Assaulted Adam? Nooobody!, June 1, 2011 Ottawa Police Enjoy Their Share of the G20 Money Pie, McGuinty to Scrap the Secret G20 Law (1939 Public Works Protection Act), March 31, 2011 The “G20 Bump” Translates into a 60% Increase of Toronto Police Making the 2010 Sunshine List, March 19, 2011 Harper Screws Toronto’s Businesses, March 18, 2011 New G20 Lawsuits Launched Against Toronto Police Board, December 7, 2010 Ontario Umbudsman André Marin Delivers Report on G20 “Caught in the Act”, August 8, 2010 G20 Litigation, August 1, 2010 Damage$ Flowing from Charter Breaches

see source

Damage sustained by businesses in Toronto during the G20

The federal government has rejected almost half the claims made by downtown businesses for losses incurred as a result of last summer’s G20 summit.

Of the 367 claims submitted by Toronto business owners, 169 have been accepted, though not necessarily for the amount owners were seeking.

The government budgeted $10 million to help Toronto businesses recover losses from the summit weekend but has so far awarded less than one-fifth that amount.

The claims totalled more than $11 million, but less than $2 million has been handed out. Another 161 claims were wholly rejected; 37 more are still awaiting decision.

The owner of the Bymark submitted a $26,500 claim and he was blown off by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade when his claim was totally rejected

“Basically, they’ve blown me off,” said celebrity chef Mark McEwan, owner of Bymark restaurant in the TD Centre on Wellington St. W.

McEwan said he boarded up his restaurant for 10 days — a full week before the summit — and lost $170,000 in revenue. But he only filed a claim for $26,500, the cost of disassembling and storing the 140-seat patio, along with fortifying the restaurant, which he says he was “forced” to do by security officials. The government rejected his claim.

“They told me I didn’t have to close. What do you mean I didn’t have to close? They basically closed the whole neighbourhood down.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade set up the compensation process after the summit to lessen the financial burden caused by the summit’s extraordinary security measures, which effectively shut down parts of the downtown core for an entire weekend last June.

The weekend also saw unprecedented vandalism in the city. The compensation program, however, only covers lost revenue, not repair or renovation costs.

In order to be eligible for compensation, a business had to stay open for the duration of the summit, provide at least three years of financial records and be located within the security perimeter or the “external affected areas” — hot spots of unrest, such as Queen St. W. between Yonge and Spadina, parts of Bay St. and University Ave., and sites near the Eastern Ave. detention centre.

Critics argue that many businesses were unfairly disqualified as a result, and the compensation process itself has been criticized as costly and cumbersome, leaving many small businesses to abandon their applications entirely because they couldn’t afford the accounting.

“It was nothing short of a nightmare,” said Justin Taylor, spokesman for the Canadian Restaurants and Foodservices Association.

Some restaurants spent thousands of dollars in accounting, only to receive compensation that amounted to a fraction of their claims.

“It’s barely even worth it for them to go through the expense of filling out the paperwork,” Taylor said.

A survey by the CRFA found 93 per cent of downtown restaurant owners saw revenues decline by half in the week leading up to the summit and the weekend itself. Even outside the core, 54 per cent of surveyed owners said they saw a marked decline in business.

Claims, however, were restricted to losses incurred on the weekend itself.

Even those whose applications were accepted have been left dissatisfied with the process.

Steve's Music Store submitted a claim for $80,000.00 and was given an offer of $22,000.00 (only about 25% ).

Kevin Parker, manager of Steve’s Music Store on Queen St. W., just east of Spadina Ave., filed a claim for $80,000 but was only offered $22,000. The store has not yet accepted.

“The process was very difficult; they made it difficult.”

The money is awarded on an “ex gratia” basis, meaning the government is offering compensation without admitting any liability. To accept the compensation, the owners must agree to not seek further damages from the government and sign a nondisclosure agreement barring them from speaking publicly about the amount they receive.

“It’s unfair and it’s bureaucratic, opaque, stingy and very slow,” said Olivia Chow, MP for Trinity-Spadina, the federal riding most affected by the summit. “The long and short of it is that it was basically set up to fail.”

G20 Compensation Claims to Date

  • 367 Claims submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • 169 Claims accepted and approved by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • $11,093,518.20 in claims submitted by Toronto businesses
  • $1,989,490 provided by the Federal government in response to claims submitted
  • $44.00 is the smallest single compensation award provided
  • $241,271 is the largest single compensation claim award provided
  • 37 compensation claims still outstanding awaiting decision
  •  

    1.46 Other compensation. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada established an ex-gratia, or compensation, payment process for businesses affected by the June 2010 summits. Specifically, the process was intended to lessen the financial burden caused by the summits’ extraordinary security measures. The Department established a budget of over $13 million to compensate claimants. As shown in Exhibit 1.7, over $11 million in claims were submitted by the deadline of 18 November 2010. At the time of our audit, these claims were being reviewed by Audit Services Canada prior to payment.

    Exhibit 1.7—Compensation was made available to private sector parties affected by the summits

    EventBudget
    (in millions of Canadian dollars)
    Claims submitted
    Value claimed
    (in millions of Canadian dollars)
    Number of claims
    G8$3.45$0.744
    G20$10.0$11.0367
    Total$13.45$11.7411
    Note: Unaudited. See Notice to Reader in About the Audit at the end of this chapter.
    Source: Prepared by the Office of the Auditor General using unaudited data provided by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
    Funds were used for intended purposes

    1.47 We examined whether the funds allocated for the G8 and G20 summits were used as approved by Parliament. This included examining a statistical sample of transactions reported by entities as at 30 September 2010. For each sampled transaction, we looked at supporting documentation to determine whether the acquired good or service was used for the purposes of the summit in a manner consistent with the original plans and approved budgets. We found the sampled transactions were for expenses incurred as a result of summit activities for security and organization and hosting. Further, we found that these transactions were consistent with the plans and budgets for which funding was approved.

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