By Sarah Bargman
TORONTO- When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the world went into lockdown, Canada for longer than others had an even stricter lockdown than most countries as well. The lockdown Ontario was facing took a big toll on small business owners financially. The Canadian government offered aid to the small businesses while they had to remain closed, but ultimately that aid wasn’t enough to help most small business owners stay afloat and in business. For example hair salons like Victoria bourque boutique, had to take other measures to stay afloat as the government loans were not sufficient enough to keep them in business sustainably.
According to the CFIB, in July 2020, one in seven small businesses were at risk of closing due to COVID-19, not including the ones that have already closed. The CFIB predicted that the mid range estimate for business closures was 158,000, which accounts for 14% of small businesses in all of Canada, 67,112 of that reports for Ontario, but it can range anywhere from 23,545 which is 6% to 90,253 which is 22% of small business in Ontario.
As of July 2020, the CFIB’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard results show that in Ontario, 55% of small businesses are fully open where 35% are fully staffed and only 23% are making “normal” sales. A survey titled “I am actively considering bankruptcy/winding down my business of COVID-19 – CANADA” was released by the CFIB which had “Strongly agree” with 4.9% of voters meanwhile strongly disagree with 51.1%.
The aid that the Canadian Government gave out to the small businesses started at $10,000 for all eligible businesses with a maximum of $20,000 which would help cover the decreased revenue due to the lockdown. The Canadian Government then announced a second round of support on March 24. The small businesses that were deemed eligible during the first round were also deemed eligible for the second round automatically and received their second payment which was equal to the first one that they received. The Government then raised the minimum amount to $20,000 making the maximum $40,000. In order to be deemed eligible, the business would have to demonstrate that they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20% when they were comparing month revenue both April 2019 and 2020.
“For a long time, we were earning nothing and still paying out a lot of expenses monthly, it’s very exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally”
Said Victoria Bourque, owner of Victoria Bourque Beauty Boutique located in Bradford Ontario.
While Victoria was able to find stuff for her staff to come in and do while in lockdown so they can have an income coming in, not many small businesses were able to achieve that. With so many small businesses having to close down, 1119,890 jobs were lost which made this Toronto’s largest single year employment decline in recorded history.
Other than the grants and loans that the government gave out to help, small businesses owners were left to think about other ways to make revenue, Victoria then decided to open an online shop, where she then sold all her hair products including some gift sets. “Doing it online, it was just more accessible for people, it was easier, less pressure on myself or they could just log online, they could browse the store, purchase what they wanted, and then we would arrange curbside pickup and still do deliveries as well” Victoria said.
Now that lockdown restrictions are lifted and small businesses are open Victoria is hoping to get back to the pre pandemic numbers she was seeing before all the numerous lockdowns.