Small-business resilience should be rewarded


Advertise with us

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/11/2021 (574 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

October was Small Business Month, and the entrepreneurs who make up the community deserved to be celebrated.

They have endured 19 months of hardship, and even though Manitoba’s official “state of emergency” expired on Oct. 21, there are likely very few in the community who believe that hardship wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Some businesses are still operating at limited capacity, heavy debt loads are still being carried, and only 40 per cent of businesses are back to normal sales, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. Meanwhile, the federal government has ended many of the pandemic relief programs that helped businesses stay afloat.

Of course they didn’t say these supports were being cancelled but rather “redesigned.” It was a nice piece of euphemism, and there is still support available to some businesses and individuals, but no one expected rent and wage subsidies to last forever.

Still, business groups across the country are warning that ending the relief at this time will force businesses to reduce hours, lay off staff, or worse, shut down for good.

Hardship and relief have been parcelled out unevenly since the start of the pandemic. The retail and hospitality sectors were particularly hard-hit. Restaurants Canada said up to 80 per cent of restaurants are operating at a loss, and at least 10,000 have already closed for good.

It is specifically those businesses that have opened in their place that seem to be left out of the new relief programs. They are crucial to economic recovery but because they can’t show revenue loss they will not qualify for support.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the pandemic is in a different phase, and pointed out that the labour market has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. But on-the-ground unemployment remains high, while labour shortages persist in some sectors.

The economic recovery is still fragile. Different levels of government recognize this, or at least their posturing suggests they do. A two-year economic recovery plan was recently announced that is designed to help downtown Winnipeg recover, but other communities need help, too.

The Osborne Village BIZ just hired a new executive director, Lindsay Somers, who said that the neighbourhood needs “some TLC, some attention and some leadership.” Undoubtedly, we could all use some of that further south down the same street.

By the time this comes out, we will have new leadership on Broadway. Missteps by the previous leadership likely exacerbated any problems, and whoever emerged victorious on Saturday will have an opportunity to show they are less combative and more competent than their predecessor.

We hear it all the time: “small businesses are the backbone of our economy.” Those in the community are sick of this political cant; they need to see results.

Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.

Andrew Braga

Andrew Braga
South Osborne community correspondent

Andrew Braga is a community correspondent for South Osborne.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us

The Sou'wester