Oshawa MPP says small business support programs aren’t working the way they should

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The province’s programs to help small businesses during the pandemic are not working, according to Oshawa’s MPP.

Jennifer French says small businesses are struggling to stay open while the provincial government delays urgently needed financial support.

She’s written an open letter calling for the province to release the funds promised to many businesses months ago. They’re still waiting.

“The debts are piling up, they’ve got creditors knocking on the door and they’ve been promised that don’t worry, hope is on the way, but that hope hasn’t materialized,” said French.

She also wants the government to re-evaluate the eligibility requirements as many who need help, don’t qualify.

“That doesn’t mean that they’re not providing a worthwhile service, that they aren’t a viable business, these are our neighbours, these are community members who are in desperate need of this direct aid.”

Read the full letter from MPP French below:

Minister Fedeli,
Businesses in Ontario and across the Durham Region are very concerned about the devastating impact of COVID-19. They are working to keep themselves operational during this time and trying to survive and make it through to the other side. I am writing this letter to amplify the calls for help from small and main street businesses in my community of Oshawa and across the province. The money promised through the Ontario Small Business Support Grants needs to flow – immediately.
Undoubtedly, Ontario’s government has been consistently hearing from the business community that direct aid is needed. Ontario’s New Democrats have echoed the asks of businesses and shared clear recommendations and suggestions through our ONDP “Save Main Street” plan and the Opposition’s various economic and financial submissions. We are still urging that you invest in community businesses now and as needed.
Small businesses have had a rough go during the pandemic. We are aware that some small and main street businesses have been successful in applying for and receiving funds through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. Small business owners have told us that they are anxiously needing the Small Business Support Grants in order to pay rent, order inventory, and make payroll.

Even if business owners are fortunate enough to have accommodating landlords, bills need to be paid. Creditors will not wait forever while the government figures out the kinks in its payment system. My office is being contacted by desperate and frustrated small business owners. I will outline some of the concerns that are typical of what we are hearing.
Community restaurant applied for OSBSG mid January, 2021, and received approval one month later (mid-February). Proprietor’s understanding was the money would be received within 10 business days after approval, however money has not yet been received (as of today’s date). Proprietor is very concerned that money may have been misdirected and has made multiple phone inquiries – with no response to date. As of today, he has received a noticed by email that he will be receiving the second grant, but still does not know when that will be.
A hair dresser who applied for the grant in mid-January, received approval in mid-February and has not yet received the funds. She has emailed the program with no response. She has called twice, and both times she was told that her case would expedited, but she is still waiting for the money.

A small business owner with two companies applied for both companies mid January, and heard nothing until end of March. Business owner has been told that only one business may proceed with the application, and the business owner must choose only one corporation. Both businesses have separate business numbers, are incorporated separately, and have entirely separate finances, employees, rent, and sales. For the owner to be given a choice would indicate that both businesses meet the eligibility requirements and therefore it seems grossly unfair for a small business owner to choose which of his businesses will survive and which will have to go without.
A hair dresser who applied for the grant in mid-January, received approval in early March and has yet to receive the funds. She has been in contact with the program and was told in late March she would be sent a link, to which she can attach a void cheque. She is still waiting for the link.

A beauty business owner who applied for the grant in mid-March had her application denied with no explanation. She knows of similar businesses who applied and received $20,000. She has made inquires via phone and email as to why her application was denied, with no follow up from the program.

A home contractor who applied for the grant in mid-March had his application denied with no explanation. His attempts to call and email the program have been met with silence.

A local business owner who applied for the grant in early January, received notice of his approval in late February, and as of today’s date has not yet received the funds. He is concerned that they may have been misdirected.

A local business owner who applied for the grant in mid-March, was approved for a $20,000 grant. He had not received the funds within the 10 business days as he had expected to, and in fact received another email stating that he qualifies for the next round and should apply for it again.

My office works diligently and sincerely to support folks across the community, however we are unable to solve Ministry program problems. Please fix this program so that businesses can access what they have been promised. I am begging you to follow through with your financial commitments to businesses in my community of Oshawa. These and many other small business owners are trying to have hope – and while your Ministry has reassured them they have your support – they are still waiting for it to materialize. It is not enough to tell businesses that help is on the way. Help must come when promised.
I look forward to working with you to support local small businesses,