Coronavirus: Small business in New Brunswick optimistic after Ottawa announces wage subsidy

One small business owner in New Brunswick is feeling a sense of relief after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government plans to subsidize 75 per cent of wages for small and medium-sized businesses hit by the new coronavirus pandemic.

“We do a lot of corporate events, birthday parties, weddings and of course at this point all of those things are off,” said Natalie Ramirez, co-owner of Monkey Cakes in Fredericton, N.B.

COVID-19 has meant the closure of all non-essential businesses in New Brunswick.

For many businesses, that has hurt their bottom lines.

READ MORE: Trudeau promises 75% wage subsidy for businesses hit by coronavirus pandemic

Monkey Cakes co-owner Jonathan Ramirez told Global News that his savings account is almost empty.

“[I] haven’t looked at those numbers yet but it’s dwindling quickly,” said Jonathan Ramirez.

Monkey Cakes has been open for nine years and Jonathan Ramirez says most of his sales are walk-in.

“We have a few wedding cakes for April, but then May it really starts exploding,” said Natalie Ramirez.

Typically the shop is full of long-lineups with cupcakes, muffins and scones on display. On Saturday the store was empty.

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But they’re hopeful of the new assistance for companies announced by Trudeau.

“We are helping companies keep people on payroll so that workers are supported and the economy is positioned to recover from this,” said Trudeau.

“This means people will continue to be paid even though their employer has had to slow down or stop its operations because of COVID-19.”

Jonathan Ramirez was overjoyed.

“I thought it was a blessing I was so happy when I heard it, it’s going to help a lot of people,” he said.

More details are supposed to be released soon but the 75 per cent subsidy will be backdated to March 15.

READ MORE: How small businesses can apply for COVID-19 wage subsidy

The co-owners of Monkey Cakes say they will be applying for the assistance fund.

“We’re ready to jump as soon as they say go,” said Jonathan Ramirez.

In the meantime, Jonathan Ramirez said he’s not just relying on the government to bail him out. He’s hosting a YouTube channel while his storefront is closed.

“It’s some easy baking tips and recipes for parents to work with their kids at home,” said Ramirez.

For now, he’s relying on online streams to keep him in the game. Until he can tap into the game-changer that is the wage subsidy program.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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