COVID-19 | Two Canadian associations request support for small and medium businesses

(Toronto) Two of Canada’s largest business associations are calling on provincial governments to provide financial support to restaurants, retailers and small businesses struggling with new public health restrictions.


Tara Deschamps
Canadian Press

In an open letter to prime ministers, Restaurants Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday that many provinces have introduced a new set of restrictions in addition to existing measures, putting their businesses at risk.

According to both groups, the new rules, along with widespread concerns about the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, have prompted many Canadians to cancel their vacation plans and shop online.

But many companies still do not qualify for federal government support because their operations have not completely ceased.

“The reality is that tens of thousands of small businesses across Canada will receive no government support as government restrictions drastically reduce their ability to serve customers and public health warnings are causing many consumers to stay home,” the organizations wrote.

So they are asking prime ministers to announce a new round of regional subsidies for small and medium businesses and pressure the federal government to restore wage subsidies and rent assistance with the same eligibility conditions as the spring aid programs.

The groups also want to reopen the Canadian Corporate Emergency Account (CUEC) program with a larger loan, an increase in the revocable portion and deferred payment requirements.

The groups want the government to make all new assistance programs more accessible, so that new companies can take advantage of them and companies don’t have to meet onerous prerequisites.

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Previous arrest warrants have prevented companies like Anita Agrawal from getting help.

CEO of Jewels4, a Toronto-based jewelry manufacturerever applied for rent assistance, but was not deemed eligible because her business saw a 66% decline in business, just below the 70% required by the government.

Despite the lack of support, she continued to run her business, but she admits that with Omicron, her employees are now afraid to come to work and their bookings are already dwindling.

“On a normal day, we might have eight to ten dates, but because of COVID we only have about two or three,”I Agrawal. And now with Omicron it’s even less, so it’s very difficult. ”

while mI Agrawal sees that SME owners need more support, and is calling on regional and federal governments to consider long-term solutions as well.

Making commercial rent affordable is at the top of her wish list, since it is such a big part of a business’s expense.

“We don’t have a cap in this province for an increase in the amount of rent,” she said, referring to Ontario.

She fears that businesses will have to consider cuts or close again if there is no permanent rent relief, and that many will have nothing left in their coffers to survive past waves of rent restrictions.

“I’m very concerned about the next three months and what it means,” she said. Stores may be closed again or have less traffic due to the Omicron variant and […] This will affect all of us because the top priority for most people will not be going out and spending money. ”

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