Delight Indian Bistro general manager Aayush Arora. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Delight Indian Bistro general manager Aayush Arora. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Newly-opened South Surrey restaurants excluded from federal financial support

Lack of federal aid is ‘ruining people,’ MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay said

A South Surrey restaurant is calling on the federal government to support newly-opened businesses that have been excluded from wage subsidy and other federal COVID-19-related relief programs.

Delight Indian Bistro general manager Aayush Arora said construction began in 2019 for the restaurant located at 2215 160 St. About $1 million was invested to get the 150-seat restaurant up and running before the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the nation in early 2020.

With the investment on the line, Delight Indian Bistro opened its doors to the public in June 2020.

Since the business didn’t have a payroll in 2019, they were excluded from receiving the federal government wage subsidy program, rental support, and government loans, Arora said.

“It excludes people like us who opened their business right in the middle of the pandemic who probably need, if not the same amount, even more than what an existing business needs. You’re still trying to make a name out there” Arora said.

“With the government not supporting us at all, we’re in a really stressed, tense situation right now.”

Arora said there was no opportunity to hold off, or to not open the restaurant during the pandemic because they needed to make up the $1 million investment.

He said he contacted Peace Arch News after failing to get the attention of federal politicians. He said he’s hopeful exposure will spur people in power to take action.

SEE ALSO: B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

Of the members of parliament he’s contacted, the only person who responded was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, who told Arora that his request had been forwarded to Minister of Small Business Mary Ng.

“But it is such a shame on the government that Mary Ng has never replied to any of our emails that we have sent and in response, all we get is an automated response. This behaviour from the government makes us feel like we are not living in Canada, but a third-world country and our voices are not being heard,” Arora wrote in an email to PAN.

Contacted this week, press secretary for Ng, Youmy Han, told PAN that the ministry is going to follow up with Delight Indian Bistro’s concerns.

“We know that small businesses continue to have difficulty making ends meet because of the pandemic. The federal government continues to actively assess its support measures to ensure workers and businesses – including new businesses – have the support they need, and we welcome feedback from Canadians and businesses on how we can best be there for them, as we have done since the start of the pandemic,” Han stated in an email.

Han noted that the government created a $2-billion regional relief and recovery program, offered through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies, which gives financial support to small businesses in rural communities and regional-specific sectors, “especially those that may not qualify for other emergency businesses support programs.”

South Surrey-White Rock MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay has been raising the issue of new businesses being excluded from relief programs during debates in Parliament since at least February.

The Delight Indian Bistro isn’t the only new, local business that’s been challenged by the lack of support, she said, noting other fledgling businesses on the Semiahmoo Peninsula that have raised similar concerns as Arora are Eggcetra Breakfast Cafe (2940 King George Blvd.) and The Yoga Bar (1326 Johnston Rd.)

Findlay said she’s “very frustrated” that no action has been taken on the issue, despite her having repeatedly brought the concern to the federal government’s attention. The government could include new businesses in its existing relief programs by adding markers that can verify a company’s need and legitimacy, she added.

“There’s markers that you can look to that would be able to allow these people to show that they are legitimate enterprises, they put a lot of private and personal investment in, and they’re not wanting to go anywhere. All they want to do is be allowed to move forward, and they don’t want to close their doors,” Findlay said.

The issues are amplified further by provincial health “circuit breaker” restrictions that have eliminated indoor fitness and indoor dining until April 19. It’s unclear, at the moment, whether the restrictions will be extended, as B.C. COVID-19 cases continue to trend upwards.

“The provinces have jurisdiction and a job to do. But part of what’s happening is we’ve had a slow roll-out of the vaccine federally that is hampering the provincial authorities’ ability to move toward recovery faster,” Findlay said. “That is squarely on the federal government’s management.”

And while there’s only so much Findlay can do to address the challenges faced by new businesses, she said the public can get involved to help amplify the message.

“People should be writing to the government, to the minister of health, to the minister of finance,” she said. “I’m amplifying their voices, but they also need to amplify mine and others’ saying look at this, because this is going to ruin people. Absolutely, it is ruining people.”

Meanwhile, some financial help is on the horizon from the province.

Thursday (April 8) afternoon, B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announced a $50 million grant program to help businesses hurt by B.C.’s recent COVID-19 measures.

RELATED: B.C. businesses hurt by COVID ‘circuit breaker’ can apply for grants up to $10K

The $50 million circuit breaker business relief grant will provide up to $10,000 in a one-time payment that can help pay for fixed costs like rent, insurance, employee wages, maintenance and utilities. Kahlon said the program is expected to help up to 14,000 restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, gyms and fitness centres.

A business must have been open since at least Feb. 1, 2021, to qualify and the amount of money received will depend on the number of employees that the business had. The $50 million will come from the $345-million small and medium sized business recovery grant program.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BusinessCoronavirusfederal government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey School District building. (File photo)
‘We’re in a financial lockdown’: Surrey school district working with $40M budget deficit

District, board points to lack of immigration for new student enrolment

Surrey-raised Tetsuro Shigematsu wrote and stars in “1 Hour Photo,” a Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s production to be presented online by Surrey Civic Theatres on April 23-24. (submitted photo/Raymond Shum)
‘This Japanese kid who grew up in Whalley’ thrilled to return with acclaimed ‘1 Hour Photo’

City’s Digital Stage to show Tetsuro Shigematsu’s solo portrait of Mas Yamamoto

Steve Serbic, assistant chief of operations for the Surrey Fire Service, has written a book, “The Unbroken” delving into his struggles with post-traumatic stress. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey firefighter writes book to ‘be part of the change’ in stigma around post-traumatic stress

‘The Unbroken’ details Steve Serbic’s childhood, career and journey dealing with mental health issues

Everett Cummings in a tribute video posted to dignitymemorial.com.
Mechanic’s death at Surrey dock results in $200K fine for company, union says

Photos of rally outside Surrey court posted on ILWU’s ‘Kill A Worker Go To Jail’ Facebook page

Fish processing workers fillet farm-raised salmon in Surrey B.C. Photo courtesy BCSFA
Discovery Islands salmon farm removal impacts jobs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland: report

The City of Surrey is the hub of the salmon farming industry in Metro Vancouver

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read