Supporting small business

In these times of uncertainty, I often hear from anxious business owners as they try to navigate the complex web of application forms, reporting, and now CRA audits, for the various federal programs.

Small businesses are the backbone of Kelowna-Lake Country. The revenue they generate is spent in our community helping make it the wonderful place it is to live, work and play.

I hear real-life examples of hardworking entrepreneurs sitting at the kitchen table, crunching the numbers. They’re watching their profit margins shrink while their expenses pile up.

A local resident who is a professional hair stylist brought an issue up to me. Normally, stylists can operate by stacking, which involves efficiently rotating between two clients. But in order to meet new safety protocols, her salon is using a three-day workweek rotation.

She now must work 12-hour days, taking her away from her family, just to bring in the revenue that she would normally make in eight hours.

Another constituent I spoke with recently is a registered message therapist working longer days due to client distancing and cleaning protocols. As a self-employed health care provider whose hourly rates are regulated, she doesn’t receive PPE assistance.

In both instances, these women are not applicable for any aid programs, unless they dramatically reduce booking their long-time, loyal clients.

We knew that various federal programs for businesses would be ending this fall. Parliament and all committees could have been working hard all summer, just as we are doing now, to come up with the best solutions.

Instead, the government chose to not sit regularly and prorogue Parliament. This forced us into the position of dealing with expiring programs at their very end, or in some cases, after they ended, bringing much uncertainty to business owners.

On Sept. 30, the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) closed to new applications.

Ten days later, on Oct. 9, the government announced that the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) benefit would take over from CECRA. Thankfully,

CERS will now allow business owners to apply directly, instead of having to go through their commercial landlord. This is something the Official Opposition has been asking for since the inception of CECRA.

When the government introduced a 10% wage subsidy, we fought to increase this, after hearing from businesses that the subsidy was far too low. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will now be extended until July 2021.

It will have a graduating scale depending on lost revenue, something the Official Opposition has also been asking for.

Now that we are back to the full powers and functions of Parliament, we have been able to table Opposition Day motions. On Nov. 3, our Conservative Official Opposition put forward a motion focusing on small and medium business owners. This motion included:

  • Postponing small business audits until at least June 2021
  • Increasing flexibility in the CERS, CEWS, and other support programs

Our motion was supported by the other opposition parties, but not by the governing Liberals. I’ve been speaking with accountants and bookkeepers who are mystified that the CRA is auditing businesses on government pandemic programs while the programs are still in place.

 They explained this would usually occur once a program closes and all the adjustments and reporting are finalized.

I will continue to stand up for small business in Kelowna-Lake Country, bringing your concerns and recommendations forward.

If you need any assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out. 250-470-5075 or [email protected].

Stay Well.


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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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