Ottawa businesses impacted by the weeks-long convoy protest will be able to apply for up to $15,000 to offset their losses starting Tuesday.
The federal government previously announced a $20-million investment to help businesses cover operational costs incurred during the occupation. The province pledged another $10 million to support affected businesses.
Ontario businesses will be able to apply for up to $10,000 in federal funds and $5,000 in provincial money through a portal on Invest Ottawa’s website.
Mona Fortier, MP for Ottawa-Vanier and president of the Treasury Board, said small businesses have shown incredible resilience throughout the pandemic, but especially during the three weeks when anti-vaccine mandate protesters occupied the city’s core.
“The occupation forced many small businesses to shut their doors or significantly reduce their hours,” she said. “This impacted owners and employees’ delivery of goods and resulted in significant revenue losses.”
Yasir Naqvi, the MP for Ottawa Centre, said the occupation dealt another blow to downtown businesses already hurt by the pandemic.
“Our businesses for almost three weeks were absolutely, completely shut down,” he said. “It was really necessary that we do everything to assist these businesses to reopen and to rebuild again as they work through this pandemic, and also the aftermath of the illegal blockades.”
The federal and provincial funds will help with lost sales and other added costs due to the protest, such as hiring security or lost inventory that had to be thrown out.
Invest Ottawa president and CEO Michael Tremblay said the portal was designed to be simple, quick, safe and reliable.
“We really do want to keep this agile and simple. It’s extremely important _ these businesses have been through enough,” he said.
Tremblay noted it will take about three weeks for businesses that apply to receive funding. He said the program is expected to run over the next six or seven weeks.
Fortier said businesses in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa, will also be eligible for government assistance through a separate program if they suffered losses during the protest.
She added that Monday will be a redo of Valentine’s Day in Ottawa, asking Ottawans to celebrate the occasion by shopping local.
“You can bring your loved ones and encourage local businesses, and then businesses can have a smile when they apply (for funding) the next day.”