New Brunswick has announced a new grant for self-employed business owners that are being impacted by the strict restrictions under Level 3 of the COVID-19 winter plan.
The funding will be a one-time grant of $2,000.
Eligibility for the Self-Employed Lockdown Fund include people who do not have employees but were ordered to close.
“We’re always looking to improve any opportunities we have to support small businesses,” said Minister for Economic Development and Small Business Arlene Dunn, in a presser Wednesday.
Last week the province moved ahead with phase three of the Small Business Recovery Grant, which provides up to $10,000 in relief for businesses adversely affected by pandemic containment measures between December 2021 and March 2022. In order to apply for this program, businesses must have at least two full-time employees.
Following that announcement, some small businesses with one or no employees said the entry qualifications were still too restrictive.
Minister Dunn said on Wednesday it’s important to understand the province works in collaboration with the federal government. The province looks as what programs are offered federally to identify any gaps.
“We’ve heard from a number of small businesses very concerned about the fact that the federal government support programs that are in place right now are not sufficient,” said Dunn.
She added she believes this new grant will assist self-employed businesses in addition to programs already available with the federal government.
As written in a release, businesses must meet this criteria:
- be a permanent New Brunswick-based business or organization physically operating in the province
- had been actively operating or conducting business before being ordered to close
- possess an active and valid CRA Business Number
- be in good standing with the provincial government and with the Corporate Registry of New Brunswick
- provide evidence of annual gross business income of more than $30,000
“We anticipate right now, that there’s approximately at least 2000 businesses that would qualify for this program,” Dunn told media.
Applications for the funding will begin Feb. 1.
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Dunn said she wants to encourage New Brunswickers to do what they can to support local business in the days ahead.
“Please get curbside orders, order takeout from your favorite restaurants, and thank them for persevering during these trying times,” she said.
Shortly after the presser, the Cosmetology Association of New Brunswick said in a statement that the new announcement “falls short of helping those in most dire need,” referring to the $30,000 minimum earnings benchmark.
The group said shutting down salons was “unfair and unjust,” adding that 70 per cent of the association’s 8,000 members are self-employed.
“If the minister had consulted with us before announcing this funding, something we’ve requested since last week, we’d have been more than happy to collaborate on an equitable solution,” the statement read.
4 new deaths, volunteers come forward
New Brunswick health officials reported 123 active COVID-19 hospitalizations on Wednesday and four more deaths.
The deaths involve one individual in their 60s, two in their 70s and one over the age of 90.
Hospitalizations include 11 patients in intensive care, of which six are on a ventilator.
Sixty seven of active hospitalizations are patients who were admitted for reasons other than COVID-19, the province said.
In addition, there are 342 health-care workers isolating after testing positive for the virus.
This comes a day after the province made an urgent plea for volunteers to aid in its COVID-19 response.
“As predicted, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is causing increased hospitalizations and staff absences, which is putting pressure on all aspects of our health-care system,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard in a news release on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the province said more than 1,600 volunteers came forward to help the province.
“We are encouraged to see so many New Brunswickers step up and answer our call in one day,” said Shephard in the Wednesday release.
“Please pass along the word to neighbours, family members and friends to see if they can also give us a helping hand in this fight against the Omicron variant.”
The province also reported 498 PCR-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 805 rapid test positives, which are self-reported to government.
On Wednesday the province had surpassed 24,000 cases confirmed by labs since the pandemic started.