World news – « Wait and Wait »: Thousands of Ontario small businesses are looking for grants to keep the lights on

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Beth Macdonell
Video journalist, CTV News Toronto

@ BethCTV
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TORONTO –
It appears that up to 56,000 small businesses could wait for a special grant to turn on the lights during the last shutdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario.

« I lie in bed a lot at night thinking about the bank account and how much is in it, » said Matias Marin, co-owner of Houndstooth, a cafe and bar that musicians rent out on College Street’s practice room.

Marin was hoping to receive the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, a $ 10,000-20,000 handout to help businesses navigate the nationwide shutdown.

Marin said the grant would enable him to pay off impending bills and buy new shares in anticipation of an eventual reopening.

His application was submitted almost three weeks ago, but there is no word on whether it meets the requirements for approval.

The Ontario government announced that around 70,000 companies have applied for the grant since Jan. 15, 14,000 of which have received it to date, and they are still processing a huge number of applications.

« Our government recognizes that necessary COVID-19-related public health actions will cost Ontario companies and will continue to work hard for them to ensure they get the support they need, » said a spokesman for Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Affairs for Development.

« I waited and waited and checked my email 18 million times a day, » said Michelle Bouzide, who owns Little Sito, a Lebanese restaurant on Bloor Street West.

Although Bouzide is focused on making and taking out meal sets, he plans to use grants to build a patio and expand his retail business.

Once approved, companies that submit a full application will receive payment within 10 days.

NDP MPP for Davenport Marit Stiles attempted to help a number of companies access the grant.

She said she hears of companies encountering obstacles and needing the money instead, especially after surviving the previous shutdown last spring.

« It was really hard to get answers. We keep being told that there is this magical 10-day period to wait, but we are way beyond that now. A lot of companies haven’t heard anything, » said Stiles .

Full coverage at CTVNews.ca/Coronavirus

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Ref: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca

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