New Brunswick's newest provincial relief grant for businesses out of reach for some

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New Brunswick’s newest provincial relief grant for businesses out of reach for some
© Courtesy of Pierrick Heudes Pierrick Heudes has resorted to crowdfunding to save his downtown French pastry café

Frustrated at seeing yet another relief grant he didn’t qualify for, Pierrick Heudes has resorted to crowdfunding to raise money to save the French pastry café he owns in downtown Moncton.

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The province’s newest grant aims to help independent entrepreneurs like Heudes who don’t have any employees with a one-time deposit of $2,000. He is not elligible because his business made less than $30,000 last year.

“I don’t know what to think, like on one point they’re trying to help small businesses like me. At the end of the day all the criteria they’re looking for…it’s not helping anybody,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

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He said even if he did qualify for the newest grant, it wouldn’t be much help.

“It’s only two grand; that would only give me another month to just carry on,” he said, adding the crowdfunding campaign was a last resort.

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Read more:

Moncton photographer says provincial small business grant too exclusive

When he first opened his café in 2019, business was booming, but the exodus of office workers from the downtown core has made staying open a struggle.

He said he hasn’t been eligible for any aid programs, and said the banks were unable to help him.

In a written statement provided to Global News on Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for Opportunities NB said the newest grant was intended to be complementary to other aid programs, noting federal programs like the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit.

John Wishart, CEO of Moncton’s Chamber of Commerce said he has been hearing similar stories from other entrepreneurs in the Greater Moncton Area, with the $30,000-a-year threshhold for the newest grant causing concern.

“We’re at a point in the trajectory of COVID-19 when government needs to support as many businesses as possible. The closer we hopefully get to the finish line…we’d hate to see some not make it because we didn’t think of a certain criteria or the bar was just too high for some.”

He’s calling for a more holistic, less complicated approach to include as many business owners as possible

“A lot of these programs are conditional on you proving a certain level of income in 2019 or 2020. If you were courageous enough to start a business during a pandemic, it’s really hard to hit those revenue targets,” Wishart said.

“So that’s another way that maybe these programs aren’t as inclusive as they should be.”

For Heudes, the thought of having to close is heartbreaking.

“I have already put all my personal time and money in my company, in my dream.”

Video: N.B. medical society encouraging doctors to wear goggles to protect against COVID-19

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