May 28th, 2024

New businesses falling through cracks for gov’t COVID funding

By Tim Kalinowski on December 19, 2020.

Herald photo by Ian Martens Monroe Salon Studios Tanya Kellington stands next to one of the pop-up stores operating in one of the 27 individual spaces at her newly opened southside business. @IMartensHerald


A local business owner shut down by provincial health restrictions is raising the alarm about a glaring hole in the province’s compensation plan which could have severe implications for new start-up ventures in particular.
Tanya Kellington, CEO and founder of Monroe Salon Studios in Lethbridge, just opened the doors to her new business two months ago, and says she does not qualify for any provincial compensation despite being forced to close due to the new COVID-19 restrictions announced last week by the Kenney government.
“We just built and opened a brand new facility, and it’s a new concept for Canada,” she explains. “It is studio spaces. It is COVID compliant, and there are 27 different individual spaces. It is almost like a beauty and business mall. That is what we are essentially.
“Once we got the news we were shut down, we really dug deep. We got on the phone with my business advisers, my accountants, and we combed through all the new changed qualifications and the new programs the provincial government has put out, but the issue we came up against over and over was we qualified up until we hit the date. In most cases, you have to have a 2019 tax return that shows there was a dip in your income last shutdown. Well, we weren’t open yet, and because of that date we do not qualify for anything.”
And it is not only her that has been excluded from compensation under the current requirements. It is also a number of other businesses she currently rents to within the larger building.
“These businesses inside Monroe would have qualified for 90 per cent subsidy for rent and lockdown (if they had been open in 2019), and instead they qualified nothing,” she says. “I really hope the premier looks at those and goes, ‘Oh, wait. This was an oversight.'”
Kellington says this latest lockdown adds to an already difficult situation for many in the local beauty industry, who were also forced to shut down this spring. She says it is not right she and other business owners who dared to invest in their communities in 2020 should be punished this way.
We are not the only ones,” she states. “There are other businesses out there going through the same thing. These are businesses when you completely lock them down, and they need that support, it should be there.”
Kellington says she has reached out to Premier Kenney explaining her situation, and has a file started through MLA Nathan Neudorf’s office, but so far has had no responses from the province, leaving her, and her tenants, in an extremely precarious financial situation.
“This is unfair,” she states. “It puts a lot of pressure and stress on the situation. Since we just started, we didn’t have time to build up a cushion to carry us through a time like this. We were two months in. A build was just finished — a massive loan was just taken out, and payments are there to be made. I am an optimistic person, but is that money sitting in my account to cover this? No, it isn’t.”
“This isn’t just a business going through a slow time,” she emphasizes. “It is so out of our control. They forced us into a shutdown, and then they are offering us no support. Any business that needs it, when they have been forced into a shutdown, should have access to it, period. This isn’t OK. It is not right, and it is unfair.”

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