Updated: Dec 16, 2020
There are not many politicians out there who will say that they don’t small businesses. It’s par for the course in politics to support local over corporate. But what are our political leaders doing to support small businesses during the pandemic?
Short answer: they aren’t doing anything. Small businesses are dying across North America thanks to politicians deeming their services as “non-essential”. Meanwhile, large corporations like Walmart, Costco, and Amazon have had ridiculous growth.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and the world’s wealthiest man has seen his net worth grow over $90 billion during the pandemic to over $200 billion. In the US, American billionaires have added a collective $931 billion to their net worth.
Why have small businesses suffered so much? Thanks to the political definition of what is essential in many provinces and states, businesses that don’t carry groceries have been classified as non-essential. This means stores like Costco and Walmart can stay open, and sell all of their items (even non-groceries) while small businesses that don’t sell groceries must remain closed.
Additionally, due to social distancing rules, big corporations obviously can have more people within their store, and it makes shopping at a franchise so much easier than waiting in line at a small business. Companies like Amazon which operate almost exclusively online have become the height of convenience; no social distancing, no masks, just the click of a button and your package is on it’s way.
Canada’s Trudeau-led Liberal government says that they support small businesses and minorities, but the unfortunate truth is that minority-owned small businesses are shutting down across Canada thanks to increasing restrictions.
It’s already difficult enough for someone within a minority group to work their way into the business world. Based on data from the 2018 Small Business Credit Survey, the Brookings Institution found that white small-business owners were more likely to be approved for loans than black small-business owners.
This has been made worse during the pandemic, with 42% of minority owned small businesses reporting that obtaining credit has become increasingly difficult this year.
Left-wing politicians say that they support these businesses and want to see minorities thrive in North America, but then institute policies that actively resist these businesses.
This could be made worse by “unlocking pre-loaded stimulus within Canadian’s savings accounts”. Canada’s current finance minister, Chrystia Freeland recently stated that some Canadian families may have extensive savings, and that she would love to unlock these funds, highlighted by a recent tweet from Pierre Poilievre.
While for now this is just all talk from the finance minister, there’s certainly a desire there to build a stimulus from money earned by others, whether that’s from the banking accounts of hard working Canadians, higher taxation on said Canadians, or simply more national debt. Small businesses are now being threatened to not only shut down, but to relinquish their savings.
And the reality of businesses shutting down is very prevalent. The CFIB estimates that 225,000 businesses across Canada have been permanently closed due to COVID-19.
“It's clear that Canada's small businesses need our support more now than ever before, and there are simple steps we can all take to help out, such as shopping local” says Jane Ann Gilfroy, CEO of Vancity Community Investment Bank, “by investing in our small businesses now we will be futureproofing our economy in the long run, helping our business owners stay resilient to the impacts of the pandemic”.
Just as important as continuing to support local businesses, the Canadian federal government along with the provincial governments need to make an effort to keep these business doors open. Mask-wearing and social distancing are tolerable, but the economic outfall of closing the doors to small businesses is inexcusable. We can’t watch locally owned businesses die during this pandemic.