The chief executive of Aldo Group Inc. warns that the Ontario government’s restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 could ultimately “decimate” the Canadian retail industry.

The Canadian footwear retailer was one of about 50 companies that called on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to immediately open all retail stores in the province in an ​open letter published earlier this week. The coalition argued that the lockdown of non-essential stores in Toronto and nearby Peel Region is ineffective and would put businesses at risk of failure.

“I think it’s important for the government of Ontario not to be picking and choosing which retailers should survive and which ones should die,” David Bensadoun said in an interview Thursday.

“I’m sick of laying people off and I’m sick of telling people that they can’t come to work. We’re not asking for subsidies from the Ontario government. We’re simply asking for our doors to be open – to be able to do one-third of the sales that we normally do … I really don’t think we’re asking for a lot.”

Aldo is among dozens of Canadian retailers – including Le Chateau Inc., Reitmans Canada Ltd. and Mountain Equipment Co-operative – that have filed for creditor protection amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Aldo story will go on, but this situation is really tough,” Bensadoun said.

“I find it really sad to think that we’re going to decimate Canadian retail. When we lock down stores, we shift sales to online and online gets gobbled up by Amazon … We’re just writing our own ticket to the morgue for Canadian-based retail and I think it’s a terrible, terrible thing.”