Sheri Braaksma has been fielding calls from extremely worried small business owners in Chilliwack.
As owner of a small bookkeeping firm, and a compost business, her client base is mainly smaller businesses so Braaksma has been getting an earful as COVID-19 sets in.
As such she feels compelled to advocate for them now, and is urging the government to continue to introduce financial measures and concessions to easy the worry.
“My mandate has always been helping small business and networking, so people are calling me to vent a bit,” Braaksma tells The Progress.
Being able to work from home for now saves on overhead, so she expects to survive the downturn “scathed but not destitute.”
But she’s also been helping folks navigate by posting key information, as things have been changing daily since the COVID-19 crisis ramped up.
Small businesses “are the face of this town,” she posted on Facebook, and in speaking to several, their main concern “beyond their staff, is paying rent,” she wrote on Facebook.
“Any ideas how to get this message across to the powers that be?”
She wrote to MLA Laurie Throness and MP Mark Strahl asking them to consider the impacts on smaller companies.
Braaksma says she’s been losing clients temporarily, who are shutting down for the immediate future, but she hopes not too many.
“What I believe is the ultimate concern is rent for the brick and mortar, pre-ordered merchandise for the spring season and other basic business expenses,” Braaksma wrote in her letter to government officials. “Most feel that their employees are somewhat taken care of with instant access to EI but even that is only 55 per cent.”
Despite staples like bread, eggs, and meat being available at the smaller shops, people are gravitating to the big box stores where prices are cheaper.
“There has been a lot of promotion around purchasing gift cards for later use, but again people are really hanging on to their money.”
It’s clear help is on the way, like the break on payroll taxes, but she said many are not sure what the assistance is going to look like. Will small business owners qualify for EI? That’s one of the questions.
“I’m looking find out more about how to help my clients get through this, both personally and in their business,” she said, adding that up until a few days ago, she had two full-time staff and a part-time employee.
Helping Canadians with the economic impact of COVID-19 from the CRA here.
Supporting entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19 here
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