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Michael’s Pizzeria meets virtually with Trudeau to discuss support programs for small businesses

Robert Gallant, left, Bobby Morrissey and Justin Trudeau met virtually to discuss how COVID-19 has affected small businesses in Morrissey's riding.
Robert Gallant, left, Bobby Morrissey and Justin Trudeau met virtually to discuss how COVID-19 has affected small businesses in Morrissey's riding. - Screen grab
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

One summerside business owner was able to voice his concerns to Ottawa last week in a virtual meeting with the Prime Minister.

On Jan. 5, Justin Trudeau, Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey and Robert Gallant, owner of Michael’s Pizzeria, discussed how COVID-19 has affected small businesses, and the success or shortcomings of financial support programs.

Morrissey said he has had a good relationship with businesses in his riding, but thought it was important for Trudeau to hear from those businesses directly.

“I thanked him for the rollout of the money that businesses did receive so far,” said Gallant, “but I also told him that businesses are not out of the woods, yet.”

Winter is a slow time for businesses and the increase of people working from home may create further hardships, Gallant said.

Despite closing entirely for two months in the spring – losing around $275,000 of sales – Michael’s Pizzeria has managed to get back on its feet. Gallant said, though, that hasn’t been the case for every business in the area.

When he learned Morrissey chose him to speak with the prime minister, Gallant asked other small business owners in Summerside what they would like him to mention in the meeting. One of the common denominators, he said, was the “unknown.”

“If we don’t get some kind of clarity of what’s going to be happening in the future,” Gallant said, “a lot of the businesses and establishments are going to go through the same thing they went through last summer.”

As a result of many businesses temporarily closing due to pandemic restrictions, Ottawa had rolled out programs to help keep them from shutting their doors forever.

Some programs include the wage subsidy program, the small business loan program and the rent subsidy.

“They’ve been sufficient for a lot of businesses,” said Morrissey. “For others, they may require more support.”

If businesses stress the importance of extending the programs, Morrissey said he will work to make that happen.

“I think the big concern going forward is, when will travel resume unrestricted?” Morrissey asked. “Nobody quite knows. We know it’s unlikely tourism will be back to usual this year.”

In his brief meeting with the Prime Minister, Gallant suggested creating a focus group to see what can be done to help get businesses back on track.

“It was a great meeting, and [I’m] fortunate enough to be the person to tell them what we went through, and talk about other businesses as well,” he said.

Twitter.com/peikristin

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