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Small business owners falling through the cracks of federal relief programs

Last Updated Apr 6, 2020 at 5:19 pm PDT

FILE - Parliament Hill is seen without any visitors in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Some small business owners say the federal relief programs don't help them

Two business owners say keeping their shop leases up is their biggest pressure

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — People running small businesses or who are their own employer and employee say they’re finding no relief in the COVID-19 financial relief programs.

Brie Balmer says she is trying to keep her Langley juice bar from going under, but it’s too small for the new federal business loan and wage subsidy and she’s her own boss.

“We don’t fit the bill for a loan because we’ve never done $50,000 in payroll in a year. We don’t have incomes so we don’t fit the bill for the emergency benefit. We’re brick and mortar so we’ve got all of the expenses that don’t stop,” she explains.

“Can we just reasonably hire ourselves for the same amount of time that we require someone to run the business, which is essentially just one employee? Can we just hire ourselves, and does that qualify?” she says, adding she doesn’t want more debt just to keep up with her lease.

“We don’t qualify for the wage subsidy because we’re not paying anybody – we’re just trying to pay rent.”

Stylist Leslie Alexander is in a similar situation hoping the monthly emergency relief fund applied more broadly since she is a small business, but also the sole proprietor.

“I pay myself a dividend out of my corporation as self-employed income. Now they’ve said that dividend or shareholders investment dividends are not considered income,” she says.

Alexander explains the way she pays herself a dividend from her company doesn’t fit the emergency benefit criteria.

RELATED: Federal government COVID-19 wage subsidy, emergency benefit to cost $95-billion

“And adding people who are in the personal service industry if we can prove our dividend income was directly through providing services for people that we no longer can – I can easily prove that,” she says.

Both business owners say keeping their shop leases up is their biggest pressure.

Seeing the emergency benefit be flexible enough to allow them to collect as employees for a start, is something both Alexander and Balmer say they want.