Some business owners in New Brunswick feel the newly relaxed entry qualifications for a provincial grant aimed at helping them are still too restrictive.
On Thursday, the province announced a third phase Opportunity New Brunswick’s Small Business Recovery Grant, which provides up to $10,000 in relief for businesses adversly affected by pandemic containment measures between December 2021 and March 2022 .
In order to apply, businesses must have at least two full-time employees, which is a problem for self-employed entrepreneurs like Moncton photographer Molly Ilse.
“Even if I don’t have more than two employees I still have to pay insurance, my subscriptions, online storage, all my gear upkeep. I don’t get to cancel that because I’m not working for three weeks,” she said.
She said she felt the provincial funding initiative was out of touch with the reality of many small New Brunswick business operators, like hairstylists, photographers and makeup artists who rarely have employees on payroll.
Though she has benefitted from federal programs like CERB and the CRB in the past, she said it’s not enough to make up for lost expenses.
“There were a times where it was well…I can’t pay these bills this month because that’s what it is” she said, adding in 2020 she made less than half of what she had consistently made over the past five years as a photographer,” she said.
She has had to resort to selling her house and moving in with her in laws in order to keep up with expenses.
“I know for a fact that if I had not sold my house I would have had to give up this studio,” she said of the studio she rents to other photographers in Moncton.
In a written statement provided to Global News on Monday, Arlene Dunn, minister responsible for Opportunities NB said that ONB was aware of the concerns brought forward by business with fewer than two employees and that the organization “is actively exploring options to support self-employed individuals who operate within impacted sectors but who currently do not meet the employment eligibility thresholds as defined in the Small Business Recovery Grant program.”