“Smile, the world needs it more now”.
Those were the words of Bayani Alcantara, president of the Philippine Business Society of Alberta (PBSA) after a Zoom Meeting, April 4, with members and guest speakers MLA Jordan Walker, MPs James Cumming and Kelly McCauley and Councilor Mike Nickel.
“We can overcome this challenge,” said Alcantara, owner of Panciteria de Manila Restaurant.
The PBSA head and other small business owners were raising questions with regards to various concerns amid the Covid 19 pandemic which has hit their operations.
The guest speakers cited government programs in place to help business owners.
Lixmilla Serrano, owner of 3J Variety Store, said they are having difficulties get the needed help from Business Development Bank of Canada because of the strict restrictions.
The government bank offers loans of up to $100,000 for businesses which can be repaid over five years. Debtors can postpone capital payment for the first six months. To be eligible, the business must be based in Canada and have been generating revenues for at least two years.
Serrano, however, pointed out that small business owners have not been doing well since 2015 because of the recession and so they will try to approach private banks to help them get the needed funds to continue their operations.
Lawyer Joseph Angeles of Angeles Law said business owners have been using their available cash and wanted to see provincial and federal government actions that would will make small businesses keep cash in their pockets.
“We’re burning through our cash which can be good for two months,” said Angeles.
MLA Walker said that government cannot solve the Covid 19 crisis on its own and called on everyone to harness the power of civil society.
Realtor Loida Lumanlan said that there are still cheques coming in for April but after that there will be no more revenue for a self-employed like her.
Walker replied that the Alberta government website has resources but will address the issues raised by the Filipino business owners after checking with key provincial officials directly involved in working on reliefs.
MP Kelly McCauley
Councilor Mike Nickel
MP James Cumming
MLA Jordan Walker