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NDP leader wants more support for small businesses

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ford government to continue helping small businesses as the province is now in Step Two of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan.

Horwath was joined recently by Oshawa MPP Jennifer French and Kandi Knight, owner and hair stylist at Hair Kandi in Oshawa, to call for the small business grant to be fixed and expanded to help local businesses reopen and stay open.

“Not all small businesses qualify for federal funding,” says Knight, adding she really depended on the small business grant when it came out.

However, even though she was approved in January 2021 and funds were to be received within 10 days, Knight says it never came.

“I did everything I could do,” she says, before finally contacting her MPP.

“She went to bat for me and I know it’s because of her going to bat for me that I received it,” adds Knight.

While Knight says the first grant helped pay the mounting bills, there’s also going to be other things that are needed to help keep the business going moving forward.

“I waited four months to receive one grant when it was supposed to only take 10 business days and now I wait for the second grant. This shouldn’t be happening,” adds Knight.

“Some businesses are generations of families that passed down their legacies and imprints on our communities.”

French says some local businesses have been denied access to the program because they had to retool during COVID to survive, or because of the size of their businesses. Others were denied because of  typos in their applications, and, in many cases, for no apparent reason at all.

Horwath says help is needed to open all local small and medium-sized businesses that need support to reopen safely and to stay open.

“Jobs are on the line. Families’ livelihoods are on the line. The dreams of entrepreneurs and generations-old family businesses are on the line. And Ontario’s recovery is on the line,” says Horwath. “That’s why I’m proposing a new round of small business grants, and, this time, I’m calling for the program to be available to any small- or medium-sized local businesses that’s struggling as a result of the pandemic.”