Exhausted and running out of cash, with no renewed government subsidies in sight, some owners are shutting down until restrictions lifted
Canada’s premiers are being asked to provide more financial support to small businesses as Omicron becomes the dominant COVD-19 variant.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Restaurants Canada issued an open letter calling for aid as renewed lockdowns, restrictions and loss of business return.
“With many public health officials ringing Omicron alarm bells across Canada, many small businesses are, once again, deeply affected,” goes the letter.
“Most provinces have now announced a fresh round of restrictions, on top of the ongoing restrictions like vaccine passport requirements that exist across the country. In addition, the panic that has set in among the public has meant that, even in areas that have not added fresh restrictions, many more consumers are staying home, cancelling reservations and events and doing their shopping online.”
The letter says even before Omicron, nearly two-thirds of small businesses hadn’t seen a return to normal level sales and of that group nearly a quarter felt their business may fail within six months.
“The need for significant and immediate financial help is critical,” says the letter.
“The new federal support programs are incredibly limited in scope. CFIB’s pre-Omicron data showed that 80% of small businesses in need of help will no longer qualify.”
The letter says a restaurant that has seen a 35% revenue decline and a retailer with a 45% revenue decline will now receive zero support from Ottawa.
It also says the federal “lockdown” support doesn’t help businesses facing a 50% capacity reduction.
“Put frankly, tens of thousands of small firms across Canada will receive no support from governments,” says the letter.
Among the asks in the letter: a new round of provincial small business grants; the return of the federal wage and rent subsidy to the levels used in the spring of 2021; a revision of extra “lockdown” supports from Ottawa so they’re available to businesses facing significant capacity restrictions, reopening the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program with a larger loan, a larger forgivable portion and delayed repayment requirements; and making sure new firms are available for all programs.