CFIB encouraging small business owners to take part in government programs
February 16, 2021, 4:28 pm
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Following the extension of several provincial government-backed programs, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses is encouraging business owners to take part in what is being offered.
Three provincial programs had their application deadlines pushed back to allow for more businesses to apply.
Marilyn Braun-Pollon, vice-president of Prairie and Agri-business with CFIB, says that despite moving into the new year, many businesses still face the same problems they faced in 2020.
“These continue to be challenging times for small businesses, and the challenges they faced in 2020 haven’t gone away in 2021,” Braun-Pollon said. “After a tough financial and emotional slog to get through a historically difficult year that was 2020, the beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year.”
She explained that a large number of businesses are operating at reduced staff while others are struggling with the costs of adapting to the public health order. Braun-Pollon says that under half of the small businesses are operating at full capacity.
“When you see that 76% of businesses are fully open, about 49% are fully staffed, but only about 27% are making normal sales it means we’ve got a long road to recovery,” Braun-Pollon said.
Braun-Pollon applauds Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe for avoiding a complete lockdown, saying that a complete lockdown would mean that many small businesses would not be able to open their doors again.
“The provincial government has avoided blanket lockdown measures that we’ve seen in other provinces, that is certainly a preferable approach than complete lockdown measures,” said Braun-Pollon.
With the extension of the current programs, Braun-Pollon believes that more businesses will be applying to take part, and encourages business owners to take the time and submit applications, even if they do not believe they are eligible. She says that their CFIB helpline has received around 78,000 calls for assistance with applications and inquiries about the different programs that have been made available by both the federal and provincial government.
The Government of Saskatchewan’s three programs, the Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP), Strong Recovery Adaptation Rebate (SRAR) , and Re-Open Saskatchewan Training Subsidy (RSTS) programs have all had their application deadlines extended into March with SSBEP being extended to March 2, 2021, and both SRAR and RSTS being extended until March 31, 2021. Braun-Pollon believes the SSBEP program should apply to businesses that have been dealing with the restrictions in February.
“We’d encourage the province to even extend it for the month of February as well. These are challenging times and business owners have a lot of uncertainty ahead of them,” Braun-Pollon said. “So I think when you look at that, the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment Program that was renewed and extended in January was certainly welcomed in a big way.”
She also explained that she is happy with how the provincial government is handling these small business programs, saying the federal government has not made their programs accessible to new businesses while the provincial government has.
She also encourages residents to shop local and support small businesses. She explained that this not only helps support the business that an item is purchased at, but that money is put back into the local economy.
“Right now supporting local is more important than ever. We need everyone to think about small businesses every day in all their purchases to help those businesses to survive in 2021.”