ceba loan

Small businesses in Toronto say CEBA won't be enough to save them

Businesses deemed non-essential by the Ontario government have been some of the hardest hit as many remain closed while Toronto remains in lockdown.

The federal government set up the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include $25 billion funding for small and medium-sized businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a $40,000 interest free loan until December 31, 2022.

But a new movement among local businesses aims to raise awareness of the shortfalls of the CEBA program.

Co-owner of Parkdale clothing store Frances Watson, Meg Watson, first proposed the idea of businesses hanging signs that read 'CEBA won't save us' in their windows and use the hashtag #CEBAwontsaveus on the shop's Instagram story.

"What a powerful visual it would be if every small business who is not eligible for/aided by CEBA made a sign like this and hung it in their windows," it read.

Gift and clothing shop Likely General on nearby Roncesvalles Ave caught the note and added a message expanding on the mission of the initiative.

My sister Meg from @franceswatson just made this. Small business owners - listen up! We encourage you to paint massive white signs and hang them in your window. We need people to understand that most small businesses don’t qualify for CEBA loans and aren’t in the position to go further in debt. It seems as though the CEBA roll out helps many but actually, it doesn’t. If you look at our former post, you’ll see exactly how it doesn’t — voiced by so many business owners within Toronto and Canada; I encourage you to read the comments too! Small business owners have poured their savings, time, livelihoods, everything into their spaces for a chance to create communities within communities. Some of these businesses have operated for decades — Likely is only 7 years old. What will Toronto look like when we have to close our doors for good? What will Ontario look like? Canada? We really need the government to hear and see us, and we need your help. If you want to emerge from this with the fabric of our communities still in tact, please write our government, speak out, now is the time. We also have friends working on a form/email you can sign and send so stay tuned. Use this hashtag and make a sign - let’s start being seen. #cebawontsaveus @justinpjtrudeau, can you hear us?

A post shared by Likely General (@likelygeneral) on

Within the last day, more neighbouring businesses have posted signs, including Capital Espresso and Black Cat Artspace.

"In solidarity with my neighbors and friends," Capital's caption reads. "Truth is, when we open back up again we may lose a few. Ask the govt to step up and tell them we don’t want to shop at only big box stores. We can’t do this without you."

Hounslow's House off St. Clair West is also echoing the message of urgency for the government to do more to help small businesses.

The Likely General has already begun crowdfunding to help cover operating costs like rent, taxes, insurance and wages for at least the next two months.

More and more Toronto businesses have said that they will not be able to pay May rent, while small business across Canada are calling for commercial rent relief in addition to the CEBA.

Senior officials in Ottawa say they're looking at ways to relieve rent before widespread business closures are predicted for mid-May.

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