The pandemic has devastated small businesses, shuttering operations and inflicting economic consequences on owners and their employees alike.
Small businesses such as food services, beauty salons and barbershops account for nearly half of all private-sector jobs and provide a livelihood for countless low-wage workers. They also have suffered an especially hard blow.
Kala Narayanan, founder and owner of the travel agency EUROJETS Canada Inc., said, the travel trade “experienced the worst, with sales dropping to next to nothing.
“It has been a zero sales literally from March, we are still bringing back stranded people from all over the world,” Narayanan said.
Bookings have been cancelled for cruises and tours, she said. Most agencies are giving credit for future travel on cancellations, but not issuing refunds.
The new surge in COVID-19 cases and the Ontario government’s decision to move Peel Region back into lockdown has sent anxiety soaring in a small-business sector.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has urged his community to support small businesses that are now fighting for survival by ordering take-out, purchasing gift cards and shopping online.
“Many of these restaurants have poured their heart and soul into building a family enterprise and we can help them by sharing their incredible culinary options including your favourite options for take-out on social media,” Brown said.
To help small business owners, the federal government is offering access to loans of up to $20,000 through the Canada Emergency Business Account, on top of $40,000 already available for help.
Abhinav Aggarwal, chef and manager at Kailash Parbat, an Indian restaurant in Mississauga, said the pandemic has severely impacted the hospitality and food industry.
Most servers have been laid off for various periods since the lockdowns began in March and restaurants have suffered huge losses, forcing one worker to do the jobs previously done by two or three people.
“Families are not showing up for dine-in or take-out and people are using third-party apps like Uber-Eats or Skip-the-Dishes, which cuts into already slim profit margins,” said Raman Singh, chef at Sanjhi Rasoi restaurant in Brampton.
Kishore Mistry, owner of Exotic Indian Cuisine in Etobicoke, said the lockdowns are also affecting supply chains of the food industry and he fears that reopening after the lockdown will be more like starting a new business than just opening the doors on an existing operation.