As businesses continue to reduce their hours, staff, or even close altogether in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a new online petition is now circulating, with the goal of making sure small businesses receive help during the crisis, as well as when it’s all finally over.
Titled Save Small Business, the petition is described as “a grassroots coalition of small businesses across Canada united in our opposition to a debt-forward solution to the COVID-19 economic crisis.” It was started on March 22 by seven small businesses from different sectors: The Discourse, Social Capital Partners, Impact Bridge, Dageraad Brewing, Sun Peaks Independent News, Tangent Cafe, and Iskwew Air.
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“Across the country, many of our small businesses have closed their doors, and many more will follow in the coming months,” the petition reads. “We’ve seen dramatic drops in sales and disruptions to our supply chains as a result of the measures we’re all taking to stop COVID-19.”
The petition lays out what it says are three calls to action:
- Pause rent on April 1: Mandate the first $10,000 of commercial rent is waived for three months and give landlords the support they need to make it happen.
- Keep staff together: Increase the wage subsidy from 10% to 55% for the first 25 employees, so small businesses have staff when we’re ready to restart our economy.
- Defer debt obligations: Give us a breather from both principal and interest payments on all of our loans. Give our landlords the same support so they can waive our rent.
“We’ve paused our businesses to protect our communities’ health,” the petition reads. “Government needs to help us pause our expenses so we’re still in business when it’s time to restart the economy. The answer isn’t more access to debt. We shouldn’t have to mortgage our future to pay for our collective response to this virus.”
The businesses state that they are “willing to pay our share, but we need banks, landlords, and the government to equitably share the burden.”
If not, they warn, “we’ll lose thousands of small businesses if measures aren’t taken.”