Small Business Owners Frustrated By N.B. Grant Eligibility Restrictions
NEW BRUNSWICK – Small business owners and sole proprietors across the province ineligible for the NB Small Business Recovery Grant are upset by the restrictions on the grant program.
The grant of up to $5,000 available through Opportunities NB was introduced by the provincial government to help small businesses regain lost revenue due to “red” and “orange” phases of the pandemic recovery.
A major benchmark that many small businesses are failing to meet in the ONB grant is the requirement of 2-99 full-time employees or the equivalent of 1,560 work hours per year. Sole proprietors like Melissa Hebert, who rents a chair as a hairstylist, are ineligible for the funding.
Hebert, among other small business owners, is finding their funding options outside of the ONB grant limited due to strict criteria.
“The criteria is pretty high. I feel like it’s more geared to larger businesses as opposed to smaller and a lot of them are just loans you still have to have to pay back so they don’t really apply to me,” said Hebert, who rents a chair from Moka Spa in Moncton.
“A lot [of the other funding options] are deferrable debt that you can only use the money for a certain thing and need to prove it. So, I pay rent and that doesn’t fall under insurance and deferrable debt,” said Hebert.
Dave Robichaud, the owner of Raise the Bar Fitness in Moncton, agrees that the minimum of two full-time employee eligibility criteria in the ONB grant leaves out many small businesses that employ lots of part-time employees, but the owner acts as the sole full-time employee.
“Some of the boutique gyms, I’m assuming most of the CrossFit gyms in the area, don’t fall in that category. And so it affects entrepreneurs,” said Robichaud. “So that would really help gyms like a GoodLife or a Fit For Less where they have those number of employees – gyms that would require it less than some of these smaller gyms.”
The grant from ONB is the only funding option for businesses at the provincial level that do not require repayment. Other options are limited to capital loans and federal options such as the Canada Recovery Benefit.