Twelve Nova Scotian business improvement districts, representing over 4,000 businesses, are calling for the Government of Nova Scotia to increase financial measures to help small businesses survive the current third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the recently announced provincial public health restrictions, small businesses have either been forced to close or operate at a fraction of the capacity that would allow them to be financially sustainable. Recognizing that the new public health restrictions are necessary to slow the spread of the virus, Nova Scotian businesses are looking to government for increased assistance to help them through this wave, which has been financially detrimental.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our downtowns and main streets,” said Michelle Champniss, Executive Director of Sackville Business Association. “They make our communities vibrant and a desirable destination for locals and visitors alike. The third wave of the pandemic has hit them even harder than the first, with many just barely hanging on and in need of financial help now. The situation is dire.”
The 12 business associations are calling for the provincial government to:
- Increase the Small Business Impact Grant Part 3. The program caps should be significantly increased – both the $5,000 maximum and the 15 per cent of monthly sales revenue.
- Include retail businesses in the eligibility for the Small Business Real Property Tax Rebate Program. Retail businesses have been significantly affected by the public health restrictions through mandated forced closure.
- Adjust current restrictions so at that large retailers that are selling non-essential items in-store do not have an unfair advantage over small retailers that were forced to close for in-person shopping.
"It's the small, locally owned businesses that are just barely hanging on,” said Genevieve Allen Hearn, Executive Director of Kentville Business Community. “For many of them, a grant of 15% of their monthly sales isn't nearly enough to cover their monthly expenses. It's frustrating to see full parking lots in front of big-box retailers, while our main street businesses rely entirely on online sales or curbside pick-up and aren't getting the support they need."
The 12 business organizations that have partnered in this joint call to action include: Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, Downtown Halifax Business Commission, Downtown Truro Partnership, Kentville Business Community, North End Business Association, Porters Lake Business Association, Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association, Sackville Business Association, Spring Garden Area Business Association, Spryfield Business Association, Sydney Downtown Development Association, and The Village On Main Community Improvement District.