“This is a bloody emergency and the government is taking its time to support businesses that have been closed for months,” said Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Kelly said “thousands” of companies are in a similar position to Alex Pilepic, who runs Re-Gear Oshawa, a discount motorcycle clothing retailer.
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“I qualified for everything,” Pilepic said, adding that he had applied twice for the small business grant program.
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But he told Global News he didn’t even get a response from anyone in the Ontario government. Pilepic said calls to his provincial MP and Prime Minister Doug Ford were not productive.
He said he knew he was entitled to $ 40,000 in provincial grants because a former partner operating a similar store had already received so much help.
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Pilepic then contacted Global News for assistance.
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“I have been closed again for at least six weeks with no support,” he wrote in an email.
Hours after Global News contacted Premier Doug Ford’s office and Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction’s office, representatives reached out to Pilepic and informed him that he would be receiving the grant.
“I haven’t felt this good in a long time,” he told Global News by phone after hearing the news.
“They said they spoke to you (to Global News) and that ‘your grant was approved’.”
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In a statement, an Ontario government spokesperson said, “This is an unprecedented and historic level of support for small businesses – support made necessary by the global pandemic.
The spokesperson added that as of May 13, nearly 110,000 small businesses had received “their first payment from the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and nearly 76,000 businesses received their second payment for a total of nearly $ 2.7 billion ”.
Pilepic, who runs the retail store on his own, said the money would allow him to pay utility bills and continue paying for inventory he will sell when it reopens.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this,” he said.
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