A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

A group representing thousands of the country’s small businesses says many hope the Trudeau Liberals heed their concerns and reshape aid in the upcoming federal budget to help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said lockdowns and public-health restrictions hitting non-essential retail stores have stretched some to the financial brink, making them reliant on federal aid to cover everyday costs and keep employees on payrolls.

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic but with fixes to catch companies still slipping through cracks.

Kelly also said he hopes the Liberals add a new round of funding to a popular loan program to increase the amounts available to $80,000 and make up to half of that forgivable if paid off on time.

But Kelly isn’t all that confident the Liberals will do anything, and he believes that federal momentum to fix economic supports has stalled after the Liberals amended some programs and extended deadlines for others.

While the Liberals have changed eligibility for some programs, such as the revamped rent subsidy that includes a lockdown top-up, Kelly said thousands of needy small businesses have been unable to access federal programs without any indication their concerns will be addressed.

“It really does feel like Ottawa has moved on,” Kelly said in an interview.

“They’ve moved into .. other files, and I think it’s a serious miscalculation,” he added. “Look, if I’m wrong, I’ll be delighted to be wrong — that if there’s going to be a surprise, a positive announcement of further supports to small businesses that are really hit hard, but I’m not seeing any momentum from Ottawa.”

The government has targeted June for an end to the federal wage and rent subsidies, as well as the small-business loan program. The economy is expected to start growing faster in the second half of the year as vaccination rates rise alongside consumer spending, fuelled by built-up savings through the pandemic.

“Until people start spending, businesses are not going to have to the kind of recovery they’re hoping for, and I think it’s critical that we continue to provide support for people who can actually create that spending,” said Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

A Bank of Canada survey of consumer expectations showed that respondents anticipated spending more than one-third of extra savings from the pandemic over the next two years.

The survey released Monday also said consumers expect their spending patterns to return to normal in about one year, with post-vaccination increases on a wide range of goods, especially travel and social activities.

Getting the economy through the pandemic, with the latest wave renewing lockdowns in parts of the country, and laying the groundwork for recovery will be a balancing act the Liberals will look to strike in the April 19 budget.

While the number of businesses experiencing steep revenue declines appears to have stabilized, half of businesses in the arts, entertainment, accommodation and food services sectors are reporting revenue declines of 30 per cent or more compared to last year, according to a review of Statistics Canada data by Deloitte and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has promised to spend up to $100 billion over three years should economic conditions, particularly employment numbers, require it.

Kelly said his concern is that stimulus now, while potentially helpful, could lead to spending on businesses that remain open through lockdowns and not on those that could use the spending.

“My fear is money is going to go to buy big-screen TVs at Costco online because the parts of the economy that have been bleeding are not a fully open, (and) Canadians are still being told that they’re not supposed to leave their homes,” Kelly said.

“You have got to make sure that those things are taken care of before the government gets into the stimulus game.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Monday with Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. The Opposition leader’s office said in a statement that O’Toole asked Trudeau “how many jobs the budget would create,” without saying what the answer was, and that Trudeau “did not commit that his budget would reduce taxes on families.”

In a tweet, Trudeau said the budget would “focus on creating good jobs while fighting climate change, growing the middle class, and getting us past this pandemic.”

Trudeau was scheduled to speak later Monday with Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet. The prime minister said last week he wanted to speak with all opposition leaders early this week about the budget.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BusinessCoronavirus

Just Posted

The Seattle Cossacks are a popular portion of the Hope Brigade Days parade. Some form of a community parade may still take place, say organizers. (Standard file photo)
Hope’s Brigade Days once again hit by pandemic concerns

Main event cancelled, but there is a glimmer of hope some events could happen

(Submitted)
Looking back on a rural nursing career in Hope

After a career spent working at Fraser Canyon Hospital, Jo-Dee Chisholm retires

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
UPDATE: Fire near Harrison Mills grows to 3 hectares

Resident near wildfire: ‘I pray that the Creator brings rain as soon as possible’

Justin Bond’s Bahrain 1 took a team around a year to construct. It gets its name because the Sheik of Bahrain is a major sponsor of the team. / Photo courtesy of Justin Bond.
Mission dragracer wins Atlanta race, ousts back-to-back world champion

Justin Bond goes quarter-mile in 5.738-seconds, beating champ Stevie ‘Fast’ Jackson on home turf

Jamie and Erin O’Neill, who are renting a 107-year-old house at 45837 Knight Rd., are wanting to save it from the wrecking ball and move it when it comes time for the owners of the house to build a new house on the property. They are pictured here outside the home on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack couple wants to save 107-year-old home from demolition, asking for community support

O’Neills have less than year to find new property, raise funds to move Knight Road house

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Most Read