In an open letter to the province, French says she wants the government to release the promised funds through the Ontario Small Business Support Grants (OSBSG).
“Businesses in Ontario and across the Durham Region are very concerned about the devastating impact of COVID-19,” she says, noting they are working to keep themselves operational during this time, trying to survive and “make it through to the other side.”
She says she wrote the letter to amplify calls for help from small and main street businesses in Oshawa and across the province, noting the money promised through the OSBSG needs to flow – immediately.
“Undoubtedly, Ontario’s government has been consistently hearing from the business community that direct aid is needed,” she writes, adding Ontario’s New Democrats (ONDP) have echoed the asks of businesses and shared clear recommendations and suggestions through the ONDP “Save Main Street” plan and the opposition’s various economic and financial submissions.
“We are still urging that you invest in community businesses now and as needed,” French continues.
She says small businesses have had a rough go during the pandemic. While some small and main street businesses have been successful in applying for and receiving funds through the grant, French says other small business owners have said they are anxiously needing the grant in order to pay rent, order inventory, and make payroll.
“Even if business owners are fortunate enough to have accommodating landlords, bills need to be paid. Creditors will not wait forever while the government figures out the kinks in its payment system,” she writes.
French writes in her letter of one community restaurant that applied for the OSBSG in mid-January 2021 and received approval one month later, despite the understanding that the money would be received within 10 business days after approval. However, French says as of mid-April, the funds had still not been received.
“[The] proprietor is very concerned that money may have been misdirected and has made multiple phone inquiries with no response to date,” she says, noting as of April 12, the restaurant owner had received a notice stating he would be receiving the second grant but still not knowing when that will be.
French also writes of a hair dresser who applied for the grant in mid-January, received approval in mid-February and has not yet received the funds, despite having reached out multiple times through email and telephone.
“She was told that her case would be expedited, but she is still waiting for the money.”
French says her office works diligently and sincerely to support folks across the community, however, are unable to solve ministry program problems and is asking that business be able to access what they have been promised.
“I am begging you to follow through with your financial commitments to businesses in my community of Oshawa.”
She adds these and many other small business owners are trying to have hope, and while the ministry has reassured them they have your support, they are still waiting for it to materialize.
“It is not enough to tell businesses that help is on the way. Help must come when promised.”