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Impact of COVID-19 on Small Business and Self-Employed

My daughter offered to write an article about the COVID-19 and its impact on her life. She is a self-employed Chiropractor, so she is directly affected by this Pandemic. Small businesses and entrepreneurs will be impacted by this harshly. She is also at risk due to asthma and lung issues. I offer this for your consideration. Note, this was written in May 2020, just as the Pandemic began.

COVID-19 From the Self-Employed and Small Business Perspective

Work from home if you can! No sick notes needed! Waived week long waiting period for E.I. applications! Relief funding for those unable to work due to closures! The Canadian Government is stepping in to pledge 1 billion dollars to help with the repercussions of the current COVID-19 crisis. I am self-employed as a chiropractor and my business will be affected by COVID-19, even if I don’t contract the virus. Somewhere down the line, there may be some relief funding specifically for small businesses and the self-employed, but I am not holding my breath that it will be any time soon. 

Currently in Ottawa, we have 10 confirmed cases. Schools, libraries, museums, and city recreation complexes, are all closed as of March 16th and will stay closed until at least the beginning of April. Private health clinics have not been given any guidance (as of March 15th) on whether to stay open or close. Hourly, we are checking multiple sources and updating our policies based on our best judgement of what is safe for our clinic but also protects our livelihood. 

Social distancing is effective, no argument on that one. I fully support trying to “flatten the curve”, and as an individual who would most likely end up very sick if she contracted this virus, I am happy to limit my social outings. However, being within a metre of other people is a part of my job. Touching people is my job. I sit in a difficult situation trying to balance having an income, and protecting mine and my patients’ (sub customer/ client/ consumer for other small businesses) health.

As a health care practitioner, I have always washed my hands between patients, my equipment and room has always been cleaned according to health regulations. Lately, I’ve upped my game, as much as possible, to keep my patients safe and my businesses going. I can’t get hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes are at a premium and I am continually being asked if it’s safe to come to our clinic. Even if we do stay open, there is no guarantee patients will feel safe and comfortable coming to the office to be treated. 

Financially, I feel lucky to have parents who have tolerated me living in their house since I graduated 18 months ago. I don’t have a mortgage or children. I also don’t have a spouse with benefits or a salaried income. I do have a load of student debt and am grateful for the Bank of Canada’s recent interest rate cuts. As an independent contractor I get paid based on the number of patients I treat. Full stop. Not salaried, no benefits, no E.I.. Working from home is not an option. Small businesses will feel the hurt from this situation for the next 6 months to 1 year. We are stressed. Yes, an emergency fund is vital. Most financial folks say 3-6 months worth of expenses is what you should have put away. There are people much more qualified than I am to comment on that factor.

Now that I have sufficiently indulged in standing on my soapbox and yelling my problems at the internet, here are some tips to continue to support small businesses if you are healthy, not self-isolating and able:

  1. That local coffee shop you frequent on the weekend or before work, continue to go if you are healthy and not at risk. Get some of their beans/ tea leaves/ product to use in your own home. Buy a gift card to boost their income and help them float until things return to normal.
  2. See if take-out or delivery is an option for your favourite local restaurant. 
  3. Keep your appointments with your health care professional/ hair-dresser/ personal trainer/ etc etc. If you are not able to keep your appointment, reschedule for a few weeks time rather than flat out cancelling. 
  4. If your gym/ yoga studio/ health clinic of choice has closed as a result of COVID-19, make a mental promise to yourself to go back, put a reminder in your calendar a month from now to get yourself back into your routine. 
  5. Stress has you online shopping? Need to buy gifts for a birthday? Choose a Canadian small business that has an online store.
  6. Ask if there is an opportunity online or phone interaction with professionals that have that capability like your accountant or nutritionist. 
  7. Monitor information channels that are giving accurate information on the current state of affairs rather than relying on social media or other social channels that tend to spark fear and panic.
  8. Educate yourself on the actual symptoms of COVID-19, and how the spread can be prevented. I am not writing this from a health care practitioner point of view, so I won’t give any advice.
  9. Save your advice on financial planning in case of an emergency for 6 months from now. The last thing a person in my position wants to hear is advice, however well meaning, on how they could have prevented getting into this awful position. Once we are recovering, that is the time to offer help on that subject. 
  10. Be Kind. We are all trying to make our way through this situation the best we can. Being angry, greedy or selfish will get you no further in life than being kind, patient and fair.

So before you start investing in toilet paper stocks, complaining you have to deal with your kids for 3 weeks, hoarding hand sanitizer or making jokes about the person sneezing in a coffee shop, think of the people in your life who are self-employed. Reach out, ask them how you can help support them, stop the spread of misinformation, and wash your damn hands

CORVID-19 self-employed
Simple Hand Washing Instructions

Feel Free to Comment

  1. I am a small sole proprotor business and have lost 80 % of my income but because I have no employees and still have a couple of clients doesn’t look like there is any help for me either. If anyone knows of any please reply

    1. Response from Twitter: @MercedeBrian

      Talk to your MP. It might be okay to still have revenue and because of expenses, have income at zero. I’m waiting to have a second conversation with ours on Monday.

    2. Another response from a helpful reader:

      The rule to qualify for the 2k benefit is no income for 14 consecutive days within the four week period. So if you do not have work 14 consecutive days, you may still able to get the $2k. Of course if your work is spread out, you cannot.

  2. I’m a home base daycare provider and since all my families have lost there jobs due to Covid-19 I don’t get payed. Will I still be entitled to EI? Also I’m willing to take children of essential worker in my home for the time needed, where should I apply to offer my services?

  3. being a self employed and small business owner (hair salon) registered business from my home ,but because of my 2 elderly parents living at the same house cant continue to work ,I am in the contact with them as a care giver as well , wondering how the government help me with my bills ? due to covid 19.
    if any one knows please let me know

  4. If your small Canadian Business provides service that requires hands on … Hair Salon & Spa …. and to honour clients’ health safety as well as owner/operator (no employees), business doors are now closed.
    Where can self-employed – sole-proprietors find information to assist them financially until they can re-open their doors. Mostly because the business revenue is the source of their personal income, which pays personal rent; bills and food. Have seen the “Emergency Care Benefit” for self-employed, but cannot access an area to apply. If there is a phone # to contact and apply over phone please supply via email.

    1. I have also been looking into this. So far as I can see, ‘regular’ small businesses are not eligible for any of the resources.

      Emergency Care Benefit
      -The eligibility seems to cater towards self-employed individuals who are either sick with COVID-19 or taking care of a dependent who is sick with COVID-19.
      Emergency Support Benefit
      -Benefit is tailored towards workers but not employers who cannot operate.
      Temporary wage subsidy for employers
      -Only applies to NPO, charities and certain Canadian controlled private corps.

      I’ve also reached out to Small Business Support to see if I am missing anything. This is harsh times.

      Meanwhile, if anyone finds anything, please keep us all posted.

  5. Wishing you all the best in this difficult time. Thank you for taking the time to say what many small businesses are thinking.

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