Canadian business owners and advocates say the expiry of federal COVID-19 benefit programs this weekend comes too soon. They argue uncertainty about future pandemic waves remains high.
As of Saturday, all of the most recent supports announced last fall, including the targeted wage and rent subsidy programs and the $300-per-week Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, are no longer available despite what owners say is still an urgent need. “The supports have been the only reason I’m open still,” said Summer Baird, owner of the Hintonburg Public House restaurant and bar in Ottawa. “With every new wave or new variant, there’s a lot of uncertainty, because they’re telling everyone to stay home and only go out if they need to still.
And yet we’re expected to be open fully and run a normal business, which doesn’t really make much sense to me.” Read more: Small businesses plea for more debt help amid 6th COVID-19 wave Although restrictions on dining out have been mostly lifted in Ontario and every other province, Baird says her sales remain between 40 and 60 per cent of what she was pulling in before the pandemic.