COVID business challenges

We are now entering month seven since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in Canada.

Many individuals, businesses and industry associations are reaching out to our office, concerned that the pandemic recovery programs are nearing their end.

This has been further exacerbated because our economy is not rebounding to pre-pandemic levels.

Compared to earlier in the pandemic, I’ve seen many groups put time and effort into coming up with well-thought out recommendations and ideas for their industry and re-starting our economy.

I have spoken with many small businesses who have been able to “get by” during the last six months, but are concerned with the slower winter months approaching.

We must have a comprehensive economic recovery plan so businesses can plan and invest in order to keep themselves sustainable and give their employees certainty. 

The government announced applications for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be extended from Aug.31 to Oct. 31.

The government said it is working closely with financial institutions to make CEBA available to those with qualifying payroll or non-deferrable expenses that have been unable to apply due to not operating from a business account.

The process business owners have to go through to apply has not yet been defined, but please keep an eye out if this change will be beneficial to you.

In April, the Official Opposition proposed making it easier to access the CEBA by removing the business account requirement and expanding the eligibility criteria to include revenue decline.

I have heard of many flaws in the application process and know business owners waiting extended periods to find out if they have been approved, even though they understand they meet all the requirements. 

I’ve heard a lot about this issue from small business owners from a number of industries; they couldn’t apply for CEBA because of the type of bank account they have.

I questioned the minister responsible for Small Business early this spring, and at the time she was unaware of the issue. I am glad to hear the government will finally address this. 

The government also announced the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is extending through June 2021.

This program is administered by the Export Development Canada (EDC) and Business Development Bank (BDC).

Local business owners are frustrated with the rules the federal government put in place and the onerous process they have go through to apply.  

Another point of frustration I hear regarding government programs is with the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small business owners, which has restrictive eligibility.

The Conservative Official Opposition wrote again to the minister responsible for Small Business on Aug. 31 underscoring the need to ease the requirements for CECRA and to simplify the process.

We also asked to provide clear timelines for when businesses with personal banking accounts will finally be able to apply for CEBA.

It is imperative that small business owners have certainty, so they know how to budget and plan. 

I thank you for reaching out to me and our office; this is how I get to hear and understand what is important to you during this unusual time.   

Stay safe and be sure to reach out if you have any thoughts on federal government programs, on economic recovery, or if you need assistance with any federal programs: 250-470-5075, [email protected].


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About the Author

Tracy Gray, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is the Official Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Export Promotion and International Trade.

She also serves on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, and is a member of the National Caucus Committees Credit Union Caucus, Wine Caucus, and Aviation Caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the year, and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, on the Passenger Transportation Board 2010-2012, and elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library as a Trustee and was chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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