West Niagara businesses hope for quick aid

Retailers in downtown Grimsby are still in flux after the Premier declared a state of emergency in Ontario on Tuesday. Small businesses will be assessing day-to-day, as they wait to see the reaction from local consumers. Marks – Photo

Health concerns are #1 one for everyone but, for local business owners the survival of their livelihood is ever-present.

When Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a State of Emergency on Tuesday morning, he noted at several points he will be paying close attention to supporting the business sector.

When asked if he will ensure small employers will receive appropriate protection from COVID-19 impacts, Ford said his government is working with the feds on a daily basis.

“We won’t forget those people. We will spare no expense to take care of those people,” said Ford.
For Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, he knows the changing landscape needs every bit of attention.

“The situation is changing rapidly hour by hour and day by day. I will continue working with our organizations and small businesses, as well as the Ministry of Economic Development and Job Creation, to make sure immediate relief is on its way for those who are being impacted by these difficult decisions,” said Oosterhoff.

“I want to assure the community our government is working extremely hard to make sure the lives and wellbeing of all citizens in Ontario are protected, and we will be working around the clock to get relief to those who need it.”

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s closing of Canada’s borders, except to returning Canadians and U.S. citizens, as well as earlier measures, the beginning of a framework is there, said Niagara West MP Dean Allison.

“The federal government has announced that they will be making money available through a Business Credit Availability Program. While this provides upwards of $10 billion in loans to business through the Business Development Bank and Export Development Canada, this is not a strong enough and quick enough support for small business. While this is a start, businesses in reality don’t need loans, they need real help,” said Allison.

“They need tax forgiveness, the ability to postpone or delay payments, tax penalties and interest relief and more direct financial support for both their business and their employees. I will continue to push for additional and immediate support for small business and for individuals so that they will make it through this extraordinary challenging time.”

Grimsby Downtown Improvement Area Board chair Mike Williscraft called on Oosterhoff, Allison and Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordon to do everything possible to help local business operators survive.

“Small businesses, particularly the self-employed, are perilously exposed in this time of health crisis,” wrote Williscraft in a letter to the trio.

“Some may gain comfort from the zeal of Premier Ford’s comments but it is the length of time to get whatever aid tap turned on which is vital to the survival of many.”

Williscraft noted that the Grimsby DIA has a webinar in the works with a consultant who will offer strategies and ideas to help area businesses. He noted all West Niagara businesses will be able to access the webinar for free.

“We are all in this together and we will do whatever we can,” he said of the DIA’s effort.


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