Briones: Many small business have fallen through the gaps in government support

We’ve had enough.

There’s hardly an ounce for small business owners to give anymore — our spirits are down, our sales are down and we are about to lose our minds (and our businesses).

Under the province’s modified step two of reopening, restaurants, bars, gyms, sports and cinemas — among other businesses — once again find themselves in the position of having to close indoor dining and even their doors, while many others are forced to reduced their capacity by 50 percent for at least three weeks.

Happy New Year. This will be the last nail in many coffins.

We see coverage of how restaurants and bars are suffering, and we are, but the media and provincial grants have forgotten about a slew of other types of businesses that have fallen through the cracks. Businesses that haven’t been mandated to reduce operations therefore don’t qualify for grants, but suffer the repercussions of low consumer confidence and lockdowns.

Recently, I asked publicly on social media for such businesses to contact me. I am still trying to sift through the hundreds of messages I received.

Local farmers who produce microgreens and whose main clients are restaurants — they don’t qualify for the latest provincial grants, yet their sales are considerably down or null. Professional photographers and photo booth services who rely on special events to earn a living — they don’t qualify, yet their bookings poofed overnight. Independent travel consultants who had to cancel bookings without earning a penny. Residential duct cleaning companies who have no bookings due to lack of supply chain and consumer confidence; home daycare centres with — unheard of — available spaces due to parents working from home or in fear of infections.

Sales forces representing services required to go door-to-door. Local equestrian stables, event rental businesses, birthday party companies, event marketing professionals, international business consultants who are unable to travel, car body shops and mechanics, and the list goes on and on.

Not a single penny in this latest round of government assistance for them. Zero. Zilch.

The media — myself included — has done a terrible job in shining a light on these businesses. The government has done an abysmal job in helping them.

All of these businesses started because the owners wanted to carve their own future and decide how they put food on their table. The worst you can do to an entrepreneur is to take away that control — and that’s what the government seems to be doing. By taking these unilateral decisions they are taking away our ability to dictate our future.

This loss of control is debilitating and humiliating. Our future is at the mercy of politicians. Unbelievable.

Once again, for those who need to take notice: we have no cushy paycheques. We have no pension plan. We have no access to EI. We have no HR department we can file a grievance to.

At what point does the “cure” become worse than the disease?

We are fed up, we are angry. Those other businesses that have fallen through the cracks of any support are disillusioned, hanging by a thread or about to fold.

To politicians making unilateral decisions without consulting the business community: All small businesses need more support. Not in two weeks or a month. We need it right now.

Karla Briones is a local immigrant entrepreneur and owner of Global Pet Foods Kanata & Hintonburg; Freshii Westboro; founder of the Immigrants Developing Entrepreneurs Academy; and an independent business consultant. The opinions here are her own. Her column appears every two weeks.

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I want to find the weather for in .

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