Joel Harden MPP / Député, Ottawa Centre

Government of Ontario

COVID Update #33: Let’s save small business

Published on September 16, 2020


I’m deeply concerned about small businesses today given the impact of  COVID-19. When the lockdown began, people wondered how many would survive. 

For those who soldiered on, it’s been a hard road. Yes, some government help has come, but it is never enough, and it has often meant accruing more debt. And as Michael Wood, co-founder of Ottawa Special Events, put it bluntly: “”...could you live on zero revenue for six months?” 

But Michael is resourceful, like all small business owners. He organized a large delegation of Ottawa small businesses to testify to the Ontario Legislature’s Finance Committee hearings into Ontario’s COVID19 recovery plan. What I heard there was often disturbing. 

Karla Briones, an Ottawa entrepreneur who works with many recent immigrants, said help for small businesses would “keep people from jumping off buildings.” 

Manny Melios, owner of The Sandwich Shop, talked about being drowned in calls of customers cancelling catering orders. 

Glen Shackleton, founder and CEO of Haunted Walks, noted that large swaths of tourism had all but disappeared -- stranding thousands of workers and their families. 

And Paul Goulet, founder of Little Ray’s Reptiles (Canada’s largest exotic animal rescue agency, and a staple in Ottawa for 25 years) talked about how personal loan guarantees could mean the loss of his family home, his life savings, and the lives of many animals.  

We can’t let this happen. If you value diversity in our local economy, and if you don’t want big box retail on every corner, here’s how you can help. 

Read and share our “Save Main Street” plan that proposes direct help to small businesses, not tax deferrals or further loans. Tell Premier Ford you support such immediate action. 

And if you don’t already, consider small business in your own shopping. Every action matters. 

My very best,