Dear Trudeau, Federal Government of Canada + Provincial Governments; Here’s who really needs some support midst COVID-19.
Overall, I am relatively happy with Canada’s Federal response to COVID-19 and most of the policies and response at the provincial level. I feel that while I don’t align with all of the governments decisions, I generally appreciate and support what they are doing. As someone who works full time, and side hustles (officially as a registered business) I do have some significant concerns with what I am seeing. While I can appreciate the governments response to businesses (75% wage subsidy) and those who have seen unemployment come as the result of this pandemic, I do not agree with a lot of the policies of simply “upping” those already receiving benefits from the government who have not necessarily seen their expenses increase OR a loss of income. I believe, even as a conservative, that living in Canada demands a social responsibility of us to use tax dollars to support those in need. I believe fundamentally it is a privilege of living here and I love that I can both be fiscally conservative, and socially responsible in nature here. I love this country and how we care for our most vulnerable, especially children and those living in extreme poverty or neglect. I am proud to be a Canadian for this reason.
But I am generally concerned about many of my colleagues who are entrepreneurs, side hustlers, and sole proprietorship who have seen significant hits to their revenue and are seeing little to no assistance because they don’t meet your requirements. They aren’t businesses with significant payroll, and they aren’t living in extreme poverty. However, they are the engine behind our economy and their risk, long hours and commitment to their passions have fueled our country for a long time.
Here is an example. A woman has a decent job at a financial institution where she works 9am to 5pm 5 days a week. On the weekends she waitresses at a restaurant one shift (great tips, low hourly) and she also teaches ESL to students downtown as a sub contractor (sole proprietorship). She has been laid off from her waitress job because the restaurant closed, and she can no longer teach ESL because students can’t gather at the building she taught at. She’s down $2,500 a month in income but still has her 9-5 job. She cannot apply for employment insurance because she makes too much still, but she also is now working at home because she has a 5 year old son who cannot go to school during the day, during the week. She is struggling right now. She can’t get any financial support. Her landlord won’t give her a break on her rent, because shes still working and not on EI, and she can’t get absolutely anything from the government.
Another example. A man is a freelance graphic designer who works for several agencies on the evenings and weekends to put himself through school. He has a part time job working as remote systems support (server admin) for a small industrial company. He goes to school 5 days a week, but now had to adjust his schedule because his school is online, and it impacted his ability to provide his freelancing services to marketing agencies. He was not laid off from his part time job, and he has lost 60% of his income. Because he still has his part time job and 40% of his income he has no options. He has no employees and is not eligible for any benefits. He is struggling right now to get by.
We get it, and I understand.
Those who have been laid off need the support they are eligible for and I am glad they can easily get it.
Businesses can apply for and rely on the 75% wage subsidy. This is a great option for businesses to leverage and get people back to work.
However, the freelancing community, and generally speaking, the “Side hustler” communities are really struggling right now as the government has mandated a shut down, which they have responded to but have little to no support in any fashion.
This isn’t a complaint. Strategically many of us have been working incredibly hard the last few years to ensure that we can make it through these tough times, but I am speaking with freelancers and side hustlers on a daily basis and they are really struggling right now. The government could easily shift some of the funds that are being given to those in the low-income bracket who have not had significant impact due to COVID-19 and provide support for my colleagues and friends.