Prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency we relied on, and to some extent took for granted, the incredible businesses that support our community in so many ways.
I have been publishing a series of blog posts called “Championing Local Business”, highlighting my visits to local businesses as an MLA, and what I have learned about the entrepreneurs, the innovators and change-makers in our community. This series features only a few, there are hundreds more. I raise my hands in gratitude to the investment and risk that business owners make on behalf of our community.
What would our villages, towns and cities be like without the local shopkeeper, manufacturer or attraction? Our communities would lose their vibrancy, we would not have coffeeshops to gather in to tell our stories and sing our songs. Many people in our communities would lose the jobs they rely on to provide for themselves and their families.
At the new economic reality resulting from public health orders to physical distance emerges, I hear the desperate calls from my friends in the business community. I have seen the videos and heard their urgent calls for support.
All aspects of our society have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our normally dynamic village centres are now quiet. Owners of non-essential businesses have been ordered to shutter. Right now they are being asked to shoulder a burden that many are unlikely to be able to shoulder.
It is shocking and devastating. I have spoken with many who simply do not know what to do or where to turn.
With no revenue flowing in, how can a business owner possibly make payroll, even if it is only 25% of their normal monthly cost? How can they be expected to pay 25% from nothing? What about what they owe their landlord, suppliers and utilities providers on top of that? Deferring tax and utility bills is simply deferring the inevitable at this point. It might be just an exercise in kicking the can down road.
Business owners are telling us that the relief programs are not enough, they don’t provide the support in the way they need to be supported. Local government officials are reminding us that individuals and businesses cannot afford the property taxes their community operations rely on to deliver and maintain services. So, the challenges are compounding. There is a fundamental breakdown in the systems we rely on not breaking.
We need to move quickly and be flexible and adaptable to ensure that local businesses have options other than closing their doors permanently. If we don’t, we will find that many of them will not open their doors again – and the jobs, goods and services they provided the community will be gone as well.
In the past few days I have received desperate letters from community and business leaders in the Southern Gulf Islands, across the CRD and from the City of Vancouver. The crisis is impacting communities big and small.
We are likely going to be isolating in our homes for some time yet, but when this is over let’s resolve to invest in those small business owners who have invested in us. Let’s commit to our community by shopping local.
While the global supply chain plays a critical role in ensuring goods are able to reach our homes and businesses, prioritizing a strong local economy first and foremost is how we create more resilient communities.
Our ancestors knew the importance of strong local supply chains and strong local economies. That started with a good supply of water and food but extended to the tinker, the tailor, the baker and yes, the candlestick maker.
Today I raise my hands in gratitude to all of my friends in the small business community. I hear you. I see you. I thank you.
The programs to assist small businesses announced by the federal and provincial governments to date are not enough. Both governments have an opportunity to act on the urgent requests for financial support programs for businesses that are struggling with a lack of cash flow and who are critically threatened by this public health crisis. I will continue to advocate for stronger programs to support small businesses during this unprecedented time we are all in.
Thank you Adam for highlighting the true economic engine of our economy.
Small LOCAL buisness is the DNA of a GOOD (in all its nuances) economy.
I like the WESCAN gesture of raising hands. It feels right. When can we use it appropriately?
At this time of crisis the Banks need to step up. Thy were bailed out when thy were in trouble now it’s time to give back.
Thanks for the support, Adam. I wonder why we cannot have a three-four month “economic time out”? If you can’t pay your rent, don’t. If your landlord cannot afford three-four months without the rent coming in, we need to know why not? Small landlords don’t have large monthly outlays on rentals except for taxes and using that money as “income”. Ok, deal with the income issue for them as you would for the renter. Small business people should be grateful that they don’t need to keep paying Health Care premiums for their employees as they do in the US. Otherwise, a “time-out” on taxes will help small business people “go dormant”. France takes a one month holiday in August with everything shut. We can do three months.
If you are not financially stressed by three-four months of “time out”, bless you for good planning and try to help your neighbours. Give to Victoria Foundation, give to Our Place, give to BCSPCA. We are a rich country with a lot of people who can afford to help out. Buy a gift certificate from your local restaurant and use it in the Fall. I’m sure others can think of ways that we can economically plank rather than crash.
Small business owners who have their income cut to zero due to Covid19 need more… we will end up sinking.
I have been in the accommodations business, for almost half a century. I have guests who have been coming for over 20 years. For the first time in my life, I have no income. Zero. And I don’t see the tourism sector recovering in the foreseeable future.
As a vulnerable senior, I have lost my livelihood and haven’t been out of my living room for a month as I fear for my life. I realize that many of us are mentally and fiscally stressed. I am still trying to figure out how to access any government assistance. I doubt that it will be enough to sustain my very small business but I do appreciate that governments are, at least, recognizing the need and attempting to address the collapsing economy. Tough times for all.
I own a small business that does Environmental Restoration with seasonal spikes and some work 12 months a year. I rely on government contracts (largest land owners in BC) for part of my business. I have contacted both Federal and Provincial representatives that I deal with and they are telling me they won’t likely be issuing contracts this spring or summer. They are to busy with Covid-19 issues. Last week two of my employees were re-hired for the season but without some government work they will likely be laid of at he peak time for restoration work. Wouldn’t it be prudent for government to be issuing contracts that are safe to complete at times like this and keep some folks on the job. All the work we do is outdoors, away from the public and my workers are able to physically distance on the job. We are missing an opportunity to keep some folks working and contributing tax money to the government.