Winnipeg restaurant fears closing down without provincial aid
WINNIPEG -- A Winnipeg business owner is making a desperate plea for more provincial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wendy May, owner of The Oakwood on Osborne Street, has written a letter to the province, explaining that restaurants are still trying to recover from the first round of closures, and with a second round currently underway bills are starting to pile up.
May, who is trying to keep her restaurant afloat with takeout orders, was expecting a second shut down because of the high number of COVID-19 cases, but the news was still devastating.
"One week to the next we're not sure if we can have customers, if they're going to be 50 per cent, if it's going to be full capacity,” May said,
“Do we have to do this and that? Now we're back to take out and delivery only."
May said relying solely on takeout has reduced her revenue by 90 per cent.
Now, she's close to going out of business and doesn't feel she's getting the support she needs.
"To keep trying to juggle everything around and having the province not stand up and help businesses,” she said.
“As much as they say they have, they really, truly haven't."
On Tuesday, May wrote a letter to the premier and the minster of economic development asking for more help for small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
The letter said without more financial aid, small businesses will have to close their doors permanently.
Manitoba's finance minister said he's proud of the province's support for businesses, noting they're the third highest in Canada.
"We do think that there is important supports that are there for businesses,” Minister of Finance Scott Fielding said.
“We've done a lot of consultations with the business community, with individuals throughout the last eight months during the pandemic."
Fielding said programs like the wage subsidy and the gap protection programs have been successful in protecting Manitoba businesses.
The issue is, support options, like the gap protection program, are only available to businesses that haven't received federal aid.
"The federal government has stepped up right from the beginning, the province has done nothing,” May said.
“At the very least, I think they can remove the restrictions that are currently in place to help even more of us because we will go under."
May would like to see the PC government suspend PST payments for businesses or a provincial rent subsidy program.
She said without help her business won’t last the next two months.
"So many people have worked so hard with us, and there's nothing we can do,” May said.
“And I know we're not alone, every single business is feeling that same gut punch."