"We did get many calls from business owners who were in a desperate situation and who just needed someone to listen to them. Because they were in a position of losing their house, draining their savings and being completely unsure of when pandemic restrictions might lift." Milena Stanoeva, CFIB.
With the global spread of the novel virus of Covid-19, many countries declared a state of emergency. The first lockdown in Canada started an economic hit, damaging many small to mid-sized businesses. Some of these businesses began taking their businesses online but close to 850,000 businesses such as barbershops, cosmetics and other in-person services had to close their doors. Many believed Canada could not afford another lockdown and that the pandemic will be over after the first lockdown. Cade Ngo, the owner of Se7en Studio, located at 817 Dundas Street West, is one of these young business owners.
Having dreamed of owning their own barbershop/hair salon, Cade believed Canada's economy could not afford another lockdown. After searching for a suitable spot, they decided on an appropriate location based on their budget and client tell. Made the arrangements, got the keys and booked clients for two weeks on their schedule. For two days, everything was going as planned. But then, the second lockdown happened.
"Two days??? I got to stay open for two days. I spent all this time looking for a place to cut hair, getting everything ready, and then I had to shut down. It was a shock because I like, where am I going to get the money from?" Cade Ngo.
Like many other business owners, Cade was afraid of what the future holds and how long the second lockdown might last. They asked their landlord to reduce the rent by 25 percent, but their request was rejected, and they had to pay rent for a shop that was not allowed to have any customers due to the restrictions. Without a secure source of income caused by the pandemic, Cade was left with one choice; to use their savings and the $2000 per month individuals Covid support, also known as CERB.
With Se7en Studio being a brand new business, Cade was not qualified for a rent subsidy and the first government business aid.
"Eventually, when a lot of people were complaining that they didn't qualify, the government came up with a grant which I got qualified for. By the time the grant was available to me, I was at the end of my money. I used up my savings; I was trying to use my savings and CRB together to pay for rent", Cade Ngo.
Cade mentioned that the process of application was time-consuming and complicated.
According to the Manager of Public Affairs at the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB), Milena Stanoeva, they received more than 75,000 calls from business owners across Canada, needing help accessing the government business fund programs. "The grants and loans were immensely helpful, but they were also difficult to navigate from an administrative standpoint.", Milena Stanoeva.
I first spoke with Cade just a few days before Ontario enters the second stage of re-opening. It was a day of running around and prepare for the second time opening of the Se7en Studio. But thankfully, Cade was surrounded by family and loved ones, helping her with the chores.
A few days after the re-opening, I asked Cade how it feels to be open again after being closed for eight months. They replied, "I'm honestly so tired. I've been so exhausted. Like you go from zero to 100."