Montreal mom who left desk job to pursue dream fears COVID-19 will destroy her business

Montreal woman who left desk job to pursue bakery dream fears COVID-19 will destroy her business
WATCH: An NDG mom who abandoned a stable job last year to pursue her dream business fears all will be lost because of the COVID-19 crisis. As Global's Dan Spector reports, she said the Quebec government's financial aid program are not enough.

In normal times, spring would mean the start of ice cream season at Sandrini Confections in Notre-Dame-de-Grace. The display cases there should be full of cupcakes and other sweets.

But with all non-essential businesses closed, the shop is empty.

“This was the season things start to pick up, and we were planning all kinds of great things,” said owner Sandrine Campeau-Simeone from her deserted shop.

“Just to know everything is sort of on hold is heartbreaking. This place feels so empty without people and cupcakes and cakes.”

Campeau left her office job behind about 10 months ago to pursue her dream. She says though winter was relatively slow, sales have been good.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, her dream is now in limbo.

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“I left a full-time, very stable job that I would probably be paid for right now,” she said through tears. “Instead I wanted to be challenged in life, to do something I absolutely love.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says business, charities, non-profits eligible for COVID-19 wage subsidy

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“That is, I would say, 60 per cent of my annual revenue. If these measures last, say, beyond June 1st, I need to prepare and plan for this.”

The federal and provincial governments have proposed a number of financial aid initiatives for business owners of all sizes to help weather the coronavirus storm.

“There are various programs that exist,” Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon reiterated on Sunday.  “We feel good that either the social safety net or the SME safety net is there.”

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But Campeau says because her business is less than a year old and she has only seasonal employees, much of the help doesn’t apply to her.

“I sort of fall in that little pocket. I don’t have employees, only seasonally. It’s a relatively new business, under a year,” she told Global News.

“I don’t pay myself, so all the measures in place are not for me. It’s like, how do I function? How do I live? How do I support my family? How do I sustain this business in the long term?”

READ MORE: Quebec deaths climb to 94, shutdown of province extends until May

The Canadian Retail Council said most of the aid won’t apply to Sandrini Confections.

“Probably not, unless she’s able to talk to government about special programs in place,” said Canadian Retail Council Quebec Vice-President Marc Fortin.

Quebec now says non-essential businesses will not re-open before May 4th, but all that will depend on the virus being controlled.

“If we relax our efforts, we will just delay the moment we will be able to go back to our lives,” said Premier Francois Legault.

“There’s a potential it may be extended after May 4th,” said Fortin.

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On Sunday, the Economy Minister encouraged entrepreneurs to reach out to their banks, as well.

“The last thing [I] want is debt when I don’t even know if I’m gonna be in business in the next year,” counters Campeau.

For now, she can only try to move her business online as much as possible, and hope the virus goes away sooner rather than later.