Government Aid Brings ‘Welcome Relief’ to Local Businesses, Chamber of Commerce Says

“We still maintain the idea that the fastest way to revive the economy is to approach the restoration of health and deal with the pandemic crisis accordingly with what is needed,” said the president of the bedroom.

With many capacity limitations at what is often their busiest time of year, Thursday’s announcements of government programs to help small business owners are a “welcome relief,” said Shakiba Shayani, president of the company. Guelph Chamber of Commerce.

“We have some concerns about the timelines and whether the breadth of support from both levels of government will be sufficient to avoid a wave of closures or further difficulties,” she said, “but this is a good sign and We appreciate governments signaling that they are aware of the impact of restrictions on business at this time. “

Aid announcements have been made by the provincial and federal governments.

Provincial officials have released plans for the upcoming launch of the Ontario Business Expense Reimbursement Program and a six-month interest-free and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes.

Through the rebate program, eligible businesses will be able to recover up to half of their property taxes and energy costs during current capacity restrictions, which took effect on December 19.

On that day, most indoor facilities saw a 50% capacity limit imposed due to the increased number of COVID-19 cases across the province.

An online application process is expected to be available in mid-January, but the program is retroactive to the start of the last capacity restrictions.

“Ontario businesses have already contributed so much to the province’s fight against COVID-19,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance, in a Press release. “We recognize that these capacity limits necessary to reduce the transmission of the virus will have an impact on businesses, and that is why we are introducing these new media, which will put money directly into the hands of businesses and free up their workflows. cash flow during this critical period. “

Examples of eligible businesses provided in the release are restaurants, small retail stores, and gyms, although a full list will be available by mid-January.

Without all the details, Shayani is concerned that the program will leave business owners who rent, rather than rent or own their property, unable to participate because they do not pay property taxes directly.

For six-month penalty-free payments on most provincial taxes, this should help business owners improve their cash flow to help them during capacity restrictions.

This effort runs from January 1 to the end of June.

“Cash flow is currently an issue for many businesses,” Shayani said. “Any lag will help. “

While delighted to see the reprieve, the chamber would have preferred to see a grant program that provides an injection of money now rather than simply postponing the payment of collected taxes for a few months.

“Deferred payments and loans are useful, but they are not long term strategies,” Shaykani commented.

At the federal level, officials have broadened the definition of “lockdown,” so previously announced wage and rent programs will have an impact. The previous definition made him a qualified person.

Businesses facing capacity limits of 50% or more are now eligible for benefits from the local foreclosure program, with the revenue cut-off threshold lowered from 40% to 25%.

“We still need clarity around the definition of eligibility,” Shayani said. “It’s not entirely clear who will get it. “

Additionally, employees who have lost between 50 and 75 percent of their income as a direct result of capacity restrictions may be eligible for the Canadian Worker Lockdown Benefit, which would allow them to receive $ 300 per week in support.

“We still maintain the idea that the fastest way to revive the economy is to approach health recovery and deal with the pandemic crisis accordingly with what is needed,” Shayani said, noting that the “alarming” news about the Omicron variant and its high transmissibility is having a negative impact on consumer confidence.

“A lot of businesses have the biggest increase in revenue in December, around the holiday season, so people get really down on it. “