Manitoba small business owners struggling during coronavirus pandemic

It’s been a tough month for small businesses across the country and Manitoba is no exception.

Many small businesses have laid off staff and some have said the COVID-19 crisis threatens to close their doors permanently.

“Obviously, this is not going to be done by mid-April,” Melina Elliott of Winnipeg-based company Body Measures told Global News. “We are looking at June or later and if that’s the case there is no way we will survive.”

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To help avoid that, the federal government recently announced small businesses could apply for a $40,000 interest-free loan where $10,000 would be forgiven if certain conditions are met.

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Elliott and her business partner opened Body Measures in July 2018 and this past November opened a second location just outside of Toronto.

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She said after applying for the loan program, they were told they don’t meet the payroll test.

The loan program is restricted to businesses who had payrolls between $50,000 and $1 million in 2019.

Elliott said because she and her partner are the owners and operators in Winnipeg, they don’t qualify and their second location only paid out $19,000 in 2019 as it only opened in November.

“We sacrificed everything and you immediately get this wave of terror, like ‘Oh my gosh, everything we worked for is hanging on by a thread.’”

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses said Elliott isn’t alone and is urging the federal government to loosen the loan restrictions.

“If your business was forced to close by your provincial government, why should you even have to prove to the federal government that your revenues have dropped?” CFIB Director Jonathan Alward said.

Alward said it was hard enough for many small businesses to make their April rent payments and many said they won’t survive without more help.

“Most won’t be able to survive much longer of this.”

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Alward is calling on all levels of government to do more to help those businesses that are struggling so they are still around when the pandemic is over.

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“Upwards of nearly 40 per cent of business owners don’t expect they will be able to stay open after COVID-19 is over,” Alward said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.