Saskatchewan small businesses prepare for summer, less government help

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WATCH: With Saskatchewan’s government announcing events with 150 people could start as early as June 20, many in the sector are gearing up to get back to work – May 28, 2021

Public health rules around businesses will be easing in the weeks and months ahead as Saskatchewan begins reopening this weekend. With a summer of optimism on the horizon — one business group is asking for lawmakers to keep relief programs around a little longer.

With the provincial government announcing events with 150 people could start as early as June 20, many in the sector are gearing up to get back to work. This includes caterers who have seen events either scaled back or cancelled over the past 15 months.

Read more: COVID-19: Overnight youth and child camps allowed in Step Two of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan

“We had to do so many changes, let go of almost all of the staff. So many things that were really heartbreaking,” said D’reen, owner of D’reen’s Catering & Kitchen Socials in Saskatoon.

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D’reen’s Catering & Kitchen Socials has had to try and adapt to stay afloat, which included taking advantage of federal and provincial government programs like the wage subsidy that is set to gradually decrease in July before disappearing at the end of September.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is asking Ottawa not to ease away from the wage and rent programs as entrepreneurs take on debt to keep their business afloat.

“We’re seeing with that, retirement plans being delayed significantly. We’re seeing people dip into their personal savings or refinance their house possibly,” CFIB prairie region director Jonathan Alward said.

Read more: ‘Heartwarming’: Regina community boosts business at ice cream shop after anti-mask encounter

Alward said the average small business has racked up $163,000 in debt from the COVID-19 pandemic.

He added taking away a subsidy while sales are a fraction of what they used to be with public safety measures still in place would add to their financial hardship.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for the finance minister said small businesses could also benefit from new measures like the Canada recovery hiring and small business financing programs.

While Saskatchewan weddings and events might only look like this for a little while longer, D’reen is cautiously optimistic about what this summer might hold.

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“I am looking forward to the future, absolutely. I notice that I’m getting more phone calls than I’ve had for a long long time,” she said.

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