Tuesday Nov. 30, 2021

Nov. 25, 2021

11 novembre 2021

Upcoming events

ORLEANS FARMERS MARKET from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot at the Ray Friel Recreation Centre, 1585 Tenth Line Rd. Market staff have been working closely with public health officials to create protocols to help make our markets the safest source of fresh, local food possible while we strive to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa.

CUMBERLAND FARMERS MARKET from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the R.J. Kennedy Arena in Cumberland Village. Over 45 local producers and artisans. All products at the market are locally grown or made.

THE ORIGINAL NAVAN MARKET from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Navan Fairgrounds. Over 100 vendors.


VIEWPOINT: Local businesses need our support now more than ever
By Fred Sherwin
Nov. 25, 2021

I know you’ve heard this message before, but it’s more important than ever as local store and restaurant owners try to recover after being fully or partially closed for the past 18 months.

To say it’s been a rough year and a half for small business owners is a massive under-statement.

Thus far they’ve been able to weather the pandemic thanks to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) which provided small- and medium-sized businesses with loans of up to $60,000.

The federal government has been clawing back both the CERS and the CEWS for the past six months to the point where they were ended altogether on Oct. 31.

In their place, the federal government has instituted a business recovery program for those businesses that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. The only problem is that a business must have suffered a near catastrophic revenue loss in order to qualify.

In other words, must business don’t qualify, even though they are still suffering an ongoing month-to-month loss in revenue.

In fact, most small business are still not back to where they were revenue-wise before the pandemic began even though they are now fully open.

In the meantime, dozens of local busi-nesses that took advantage of the CEBA program to help cover their rent and other operating costs are trying to figure out how on earth they are going to pay the money back. The program allows for businesses to pay back two-thirds of the loan by next December. If they do, then the other third will be forgiven. If they don’t, then they have to pay the full $60,000 back over a five-year term at market rates.

Sounds like a good deal if they can pay the $40,000 back by next December. The only problem is that most businesses burned through the $60,000 months ago trying to make up for the revenue they lost while they were forced to close their stores indefinitely and provide curbside.

Restaurants were limited to takeout only for most of last winter. And while they could open their patios early last spring, the sales that followed didn’t come close to pre-pandemic levels. Even when they could finally open their dining rooms to 50 per cent capacity, they still had to pay 100 per cent of their rent.

Now they are fully open and they need to fill each table as often as they possible in order to A) catch up on their rent assuming their landlord gave them the chance to defer it, and B) they still need to pay back those government loans.

Most small business owners and restau-ranteurs I’ve talked to in Orléans say they will need to have their best year ever in 2022 to even have a chance of paying those loans back by next December. Add into the mix the threat of inflation and the impact rising prices will have on the cost of inventory, as well as the provincially mandated minimum wage hike which comes into effect on Jan. 1, and you have a bad situation that is about to get a whole lot worse.

Which is where you, me and everyone reading this column comes in. Just because businesses have been allowed to fully open doesn’t mean they are out of the woods yet for the reasons I’ve already mentioned.

Most local businesses have survived so far thanks to the support of their customers, but I’ve been hearing a common theme that business has been slowing down since they’ve been allowed to fully reopen. The fear is that people are buying into the idea that everything is back to normal. It might be for them, but it certainly isn’t for the small business or restaurant owner, which is why we need to continue to buy, eat and shop locally.

Despite what the federal government is saying about employment being back to pre-pandemic levels and Canada being on the road back to economic recovery, it’s still an extremely rocky road ahead for many small business owners.

Now’s not the time to ease up. If you’ve been fortunate enough to come out of the pandemic relatively unscathed financially, keep supporting local business in any way you can. They need it now more than ever.

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@orleansstar.ca)




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