Opinion: Make second-wave support for small business targeted and workable

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We also need to continue breaking down barriers that were impacting business owners long before the pandemic. The new federal Black Entrepreneurship Program in partnership with the Canadian financial community, ourselves included, is a prime example.

And as we place well-deserved focus on small business needs, it’s important remember that large businesses in certain sectors, like travel and entertainment, have faced extreme challenges that are solely the result of this once-in-a-century pandemic. They, too, deserve more consideration for targeted relief.

Help women entrepreneurs. The data is clear that women-owned businesses are overrepresented in sectors that have seen the harshest impacts, such as hospitality and professional services. We’ve seen this, too, within our own business — while 24 per cent of our business clients are women, they represent more than 30 per cent of applications for the CEBA.

It is also a fact that women face an overwhelming share of the burden of childcare and elder support. While expansions to sick pay and caregiver relief help, for women entrepreneurs, income stability is wholly dependent on generating business and revenue. The federal government should aggressively continue its push to update its procurement policy to ensure women suppliers are getting every opportunity they can.

The challenges facing Canada’s small businesses are stark, but not insurmountable. These owners represent nearly 98 per cent of Canada’s businesses and accounted for much of the job gains prior to the pandemic.

Keeping them running is the right thing for the whole country’s bottom line.

Darryl White is CEO of the Bank of Montreal.

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