Mathieu Miljours, Director General of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Vaudreuil-Soulanges (CCIVS), assures us that the government assistance provided to merchants can make a big difference in ensuring the commercial offer and above all, in allowing merchants to continue to operate.
Luckily, the government set up financial assistance. It made a big difference. “Specifically, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free loans of up to $ 60,000 to small businesses and non-profit organizations. The repayment of the balance on or before December 31st, 2022 will result in the loan being interest-free with a 33% forgivable (up to a maximum of $ 20,000)”, explains Mr. Miljours.
As of October 26, 2020, eligibility for CEBA was expanded: the requirement to have an active chequing or business-type account, established on March 1st, 2020, was abolished. Now, businesses wishing to do so could apply for CEBA after opening an operating or corporate chequing account with their primary financial institution.
As of December 4th, 2020, applicants approved under CEBA could now receive a loan of $ 60,000. Those who had already received a loan of $ 40,000 could apply under the program enhancement, which provided additional funding of $ 20,000 for eligible businesses. To date, 898,254 enterprises have received loan approval under CEBA.
It is difficult for Mr. Miljours to confirm how many companies have resorted to this emergency aid. “This is not the kind of information that merchants talk about, says the director general of the CCIVS. However, when I put on my lawyer’s hat, I can confirm that several companies have resorted to the assistance offered. As for the current situation, the recent announcements have held people back. There has not been the magnitude of the last few years for Boxing Day. The stores are deserted. It’s sad.”
Although the CCIVS has seen hundred of its members not renew their membership, Mr. Miljours explains that this should not be seen as a problem. “Including delegated members, we have almost 550 members. We have lost a hundred to COVID-19. However, many are waiting for the return of in-person to come back.”
Mr. Miljours admits that for restaurant owners, owners of fitness centers, hair and beauty salons as well as for retail businesses, the financial assistance has certainly been beneficial. “Right now, we don’t have the true magnitude of the situation. We will know it in 18 months when the loans will have to be repaid. Merchants did not have it easy, but several were renewed. The commercial offer has changed. There have even been companies that have redirected themselves. There are also great stories despite the current situation.”
Finally, Mr. Miljours said that the CCIVS acted as an information vector for its members from the very beginning of the pandemic. “We have informed our members about the possible alternatives”, concludes the director general of the CCIVS.