During 2020 and into this year, small businesses struggled because of the pandemic. Business owners were forced out of work and thousands of employees suffered unexpected temporary or permanent job losses.
“Being out of work for almost a year made it difficult to stay motivated and stay positive and it was sad to know that the business I was working for was suffering too,” says 25-year-old Rebecca Rodrigues.
Rodrigues is a medical aesthetician in Brampton. Medical spas were among the many businesses deemed non-essential, leaving Rebecca hopeless and out of work.
The lockdowns caused businesses to scramble to pay bills, and now many of them and their employees and are facing piles of debt. Rodrigues says it’s important that the federal candidates commit to supporting small businesses during this rebuilding stage.
“After looking at what each candidate is promising for small business, I’m staying hopeful that things will slowly get back to normal. I know the Liberals are extending the Recovery Hiring Program and the Conservatives are planning to increase loans, so we’ll see what happens in the election next week,” Rodrigues says.
Support for small businesses has been a regular topic of discussion in the election campaigns.
The Liberals are promising a refundable tax credit, the Conservatives want a 25 per cent tax credit on investments up to $100,000 and the NDP are planning to implement a hiring bonus to pay the employer portion of EI and CPP for new or rehired staff.
For employees like Rodrigues, working for a shuttered small business made it easy to think negatively. She says it was scary and unfamiliar territory.
“I’m young, I’m in my mid-twenties and during that time I really felt like I was missing out on everything. Missing out on what’s supposed to be the best time of my life. It was almost as if everything I was working for was put on hold,” Rodrigues says.
The Brampton Entrepreneur Centre works with small businesses in the community. They’ve experienced firsthand what small businesses went through during the long pandemic months.
Jennifer Vivian, a member of the centre says that although business is slowly getting back to normal, many are still struggling.
“Sadly, not all scenarios are covered and a growing list of local businesses that have not met the criteria for financial assistance are falling through the cracks, especially start-ups that weren’t eligible for government relief,” Vivian says.