Businesses in Greater Victoria stuck waiting for financial help from governments

Businesses in Greater Victoria stuck waiting for financial help from governments
WatchMore help was announced Thursday from both the federal and provincial government for businesses struggling due to COVID-19. Now more are eligible for the new federal loan and provincially taxes have been reduced. But as Julian Kolsut reports some businesses say the moves may not be all that helpful.

On Thursday, more federal and provincial help was announced to help businesses impacted by COVID-19. But Businesses in Victoria says more needs to be done as they wait for financial help.

Ottawa has lowered the eligibility for the Canada Emergency Business Account loan for $40,000 to businesses with payrolls of $20,000 and up to $1.5 million. Previously the program only allowed businesses with payrolls of 50,000 and up.

This, along with the already standing federal wage subsidy of up to 75 per cent and new provincial property tax cuts should help businesses get out of the red. But waits and a lack of cash has them worried.

“We don’t know if we have been [approved for the loan] at all or anything, we know we have made the application. we won’t know until we one day find it in our bank account,” said Peter Quackenbush, owner of One Hour Cleaners in Victoria.

And the subsidy is still out of reach.

“There is no way of applying for this at all, there is no portal created…and when the program ends on June 6th there is no more benefit whatsoever, so I cannot rehire someone and get them off EI for 4 or 5 weeks.”

The province reduced the school property tax rate for commercial properties, to help save them 25 per cent. There will also be no late penalties for not making payments until Oct. 1.

But Quackenbush and Greater Victoria’s Chamber of Commerce say the province should instead help with direct financial support.

“We need a direct financial stimulus from the provincial government. Pretty much two months without help for these businesses. That is a long time to go without money,” said Catherine Holt, CEO of the chamber.

“We are very pleased with what the federal government is moving towards.”

In Victoria, the tourism sector has been hit especially hard, and experts say those businesses require direct financial support to make it through the COVID-19 crisis.

“We need a substantial stimulus package,” said Holt.

“To drive demand for our tourism-based businesses, we believe that will be focused mainly on domestic customers.”

Quackenbush has already had to lay off employees and only has his family working for now.

He has seen a 75 per cent loss in business, but local police departments are keeping him going.

“Saanich Police Department, Central Saanich Police and we do the Canadian Coast Guard that little bit of business is enough to keep me and a couple of my family members here,” he said.

He has fully given up his salary for the time being and says he has given up his salary.

Ottawa says more than 195,000 loans have been approved.

His business and others will have to wait and hope their federal help comes soon.

The federal government is also expanding a loan program for small businesses and introducing a new program to help small businesses pay their rent for the next three months.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the program will be opened to those with payrolls as low as $20,000 or as high as $1.5 million.

He says there will be more details coming on the rent assistance for small businesses but it has to be done with the provinces because they have jurisdiction over rental relationships.

With files from The Canadian Press

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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