Our Issues: Don’t suffer in silence
By Mike Wood
COVID-19 has created significant stress for business owners.
By Mike Wood
After about two years, we continue to feel the effects of the global pandemic. Businesses in our city (Ottawa) continue to suffer the impacts of COVID-19. While many hoped 2022 would bring change, we continue to experience a global labour shortage alongside unprecedented spread of
Small businesses have voluntarily locked themselves down for the first time during this crisis. Some people are reluctant to take on the risk of being considered spreaders, while COVID-19 has infected their staff, and they simply do not have enough people to operate.
The federal government came forward with much-needed support when capacity restrictions were announced. However, the problem is there is not enough support for mental health by the federal or provincial governments.
Mental health challenges continue to be the elephant in the room during the pandemic that many do not want to discuss. As the pandemic continues, it needs to be addressed and openly talked about. Far too many continue to suffer in silence.
Before I discuss the ongoing pressures, I feel I should share these invaluable contacts. Crisis Services Canada is available on their toll-free number 1-833-456-4566 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also connect with them by texting 45645 from 4 p.m. to midnight EST, or online at crisisservicescanada.ca.
The uncertainty small business owners face has created tremendous pressure on all of us. Many wondered how much inventory should be purchased as stay-at-home orders have come quickly and abruptly. This is in addition to a global supply chain problem, where some shelves are bare through no fault of our own.
The idea of having to lay off staff again when many struggled to find the appropriate number of staff to remain operational takes its toll on the mental health of small business owners. Some businesses that saw some staff return know this will be their last time, as they will surely seek more secure employment.
Many people find the idea of having to negotiate again with creditors, banks and landlords overwhelming. With personal guarantees on bank loans and many commercial leases, people again know their homes and assets are on the line. The weight of this alone on people’s mental health and thought processes can have a spiral effect.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, “Seven in 10 small business owners have taken on debt due to COVID-19, with the average now reaching almost $170,000 per business.” They go on to say that “small businesses in Canada now owe a collective $135 billion.”
The residents of Ottawa have supported small businesses since the beginning of the pandemic. Thanks to their efforts, we did not see the number of bankruptcies predicted over the past year and a half. For that, we are forever grateful.
The one thing we ask is that customers continue to support and be kind when coming in. Many of our staff are new to the company. Many continue to learn their positions. Our service may not be as fast as it used to be, but we are doing our best to improve it. It is not just the business owners who are struggling with their mental health, but also the staff who are tired and overworked.
Kindness, understanding and the support of your family, friends and neighbours will help us through what will hopefully be the last of the pandemic in this country.
Mike Wood was a partner in Ottawa Special Events from 2009 to 2021. Today, he is a small business advocate taking the concerns of the rental industry to federal and provincial governments.