Downtown Guelph Business Owner Meeting – May 8th, 2020
DGBA Staff, MP Lloyd Longfield, 15 business owners
Update from LL
Still waiting on support for sole props and an update on commercial rent. CECRA possibly mid-next week, and pushing for landlords without mortgages to have a program. Sketched out only right now, hopefully details up online in the next few days. Hoping to ask a question in parliament to the Minister asking for an update, which should be next Tuesday or Wednesday. Wants to go on record for this. Expecting announcements on senior support today.
Q Is the rent subsidy month by month?
A Yes month by month, and retroactive to the start of April. Not qualifying in April does not disqualify you for May.
Q If a tenant makes a false claim regarding income, who is on the hook for that?
A Program going thru landlord so burden of proof on landlord – but details not out on that yet. Random audits will be done on this.
MW – the ‘for lease’ signs are going up Downtown and we need CECRA issues resolved.
Q Can you elaborate what you will be asking for sole props? CEBA? Extensions on CERB and rent subsidies?
A Modifying a version of the CEBA. Right now it is an interest-free loan, but trying to get some similar loan that doesn’t include the payroll provision and payable over multiple years.
Q Full responsibility is on the landlord but the business owner is suffering the loss. What support will there be for the business owner if the landlord decides not to support them? CECRA needs to be simplified, and the government must give reassurance and encouragement to landlords to apply.
A Mike Schreiner will be asking that in Queen’s Park next week. Still trying to get Prov Govt to have ‘no eviction’ rule on commercial tenants, as well as providing some kind of financial support for business owners in these circumstances. Speaking personally to some landlords to encourage them to apply. Heard that a lot of landlords are pushing back.
Business:: Agreed. From the federal side, we can work with the banks on terms
Q What does gross revenue refer to?
A Sales number. It is your invoiced amount, what is shown on your receivables, but worth checking with CMHC.
Q What would happen if your business only opened in May of last year? Would you not be eligible for the rent subsidy in april since you can’t prove a 70% loss?
A If talking about CERA – compare to this month last year or to Jan or Feb this year of last year.
There is a program coming for startups, just not online yet.
Q Reopening. Clothing retail stores….where are we at with phasing? Realise every business is different.
A MW – No Guelph-specific solution and will come from the province. Possibly a ring around the GTA but otherwise it will happen Province-wide to discourage people from travelling to places that reopen earlier than others. Hoping to get Mike on a call next week.
LL – Watching and waiting too.
Q If we are putting up a plastic/acrylic shield is there certain requirements as in thickness. My co. also provide it too.
A There will be and that will come down thru public health. Barber Glass are doing a lot of the installs. Also the Family Health Team will know what is and what is not approved.
Kelly has been sending directives to all personal service industries. You may be able to get some answers on PPE questions you have.
Q Masks in grocery stores, but not everyone is doing it. Makes it confusing. Have you heard any clarity on this?
A Public Health decides this and Dept of Labour check for compliance on the isolation requirements. Fed guidelines coming from Dr Tam was that the masks were not necessary, and this has not really changed. Won’t help protect you, but will protect other people. This messaging has been consistent. When it comes down to it, it will come from the province.
MW – When businesses do it independently of advice from Public Health, it reflects poorly on the businesses who are not going the extra lengths.
LL – This can sometimes be driven by the employees not feeling safe and perhaps don;t want to come to work. So less a public health decision and more keeping employees coming to work. Fed work looking at helping with costs of PPE. Understand that the govt needs to be very clear on the communications about reopening.
Q If we do qualify and get rent subsidies with our landlord, will small businesses ever have to make up the $ to the landlord?
A The tenant is on the hook for 25%. If you can’t pay that, the terms have to be figured out between the landlord and the tenant.
Q The Kitchener and Waterloo BIAs are working with their local business centre, Communitech. They are applying to the fed govt for funds to get small businesses set up to sell online. KW is also working on a site with Hey Local that aggregates all the online shopping in the region. DGBA going to work on this with support of various partners such as U of G. Is the fed govt thinking of providing funds for something similar?
A $675m from the fed govt going to Regional Relief and Recovery Fund and allocated to not for profit org (such as a BIA and Innovation Guelph) – can apply thru fed dev in Waterloo. These funds are to help people revert back to full operation. Also Shopify have received fed funding to extend their platform and offer reduced rates to new customers.
MW – Downtown Guelph has unique businesses and they exist all over the country. A specific fund to up their digital game would be very beneficial.
LL – Money also being contributed to the United Way Community Futures program. On a call yesterday re: homelessness in Guelph. Looking at the housing issue esp for homeless Covid patients, and finding solutions during the pandemic that could carry on when it is over.
Q What will happen with the debt of printing money so to speak? How does this work in our future? Tax increases?
A Parliamentary budget officer stated there was $58b available at the beginning, $235bn being spent, but interest is still well under the $58bn available. The post pandemic budget will be a different budget, and will be debated, but still within the fiscal framework. Economy was doing really well going into this. Still within the controlled measures we are operating in.
We work with the global financial institutes and the banks are all connected. Our opportunity is we’ll have tens of thousands of ventilators made in Guelph to sell, so export opportunities are there, as long as we can provide a virus-free zone for them to work in.