VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As small businesses navigate the programs and initiatives governments are offering to help them survive the COVID-19 crisis, some have been able to reopen or rehire employees.
The Mount Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver is like many — full of small businesses, restaurants and breweries — and like other areas, it has been hit hard by the pandemic.
But the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Association says measures such as the wage subsidy offered by the federal government to help businesses retain or rehire employees are helping.
“We are getting bombarded with different programs, different initiatives, through the province, the city and the feds. We are trying to keep up with all of that and make sure we are passing on everything we can to our members,” says executive director Neil Wyles.
“Hopefully there will be something a bit larger that will see more of them weather this storm and make it through to other side, because that’s my biggest concern,” he tells NEWS 1130.
In the meantime, Wyles says measures like Ottawa’s three month, 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses are helping keep some neighbourhood businesses to stay afloat.
“It has allowed some of them to bring back some of their staff and to keep some aspect of their business open.”
Community support for neighbourhood businesses in Mount Pleasant is also helping.
“From what I’m seeing in the street, it’s great. There’s lots of orange tape out for people to social distance as they line up outside some of these stores. It’s great that people are adapting and following those rules,” Wyles says.
“I wouldn’t want to throw a number out as to how many businesses are open, but there are a fair few them that are providing a service. Like the pet food store — we still need to feed our pets.”
Wyles adds that the BIA is also borrowing ideas from other business groups to help boost sales at restaurants and cafes.
“It’s called ‘Takeout to Help Out’ and we are going to do that for our local dine-in restaurants that have transitioned to a full-on takeout model. We are going to get something out there to encourage people to go down to these restaurants and get some takeout – there will be a little incentive for them to do so.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce on Wednesday further measures to financially support entrepreneurs, small businesses and young people who aren’t eligible for previously unveiled emergency federal aid programs.
Among other things, Trudeau is expected to announce a retooled Canada Summer Jobs program aimed at helping students find work in those industries that haven’t shut down due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government has already unveiled the $24-billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit for people who’ve lost their jobs and a $71-billion wage subsidy program for companies that have lost 30 per cent of their revenues because of the health crisis.
-With files from The Canadian Press