A Vancouver business owner is hoping a promise of billions of dollars in aid will help save her dreams from being smashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve had to lay off 80 per cent of my staff,” said Inez Cook, owner of Salmon Bannock, Vancouver’s only Indigenous restaurant that specializes in traditional food. “I had to close my dining room.
“I lost thousands and thousands of dollars in catering contracts and there was a couple of days that I had a hard time getting out of bed wondering if I was going to have to shut down the doors.”
On Monday, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced a $5 billion aid package aimed at income support, tax relief and money for “people, businesses and services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic challenges our health, our economy and our way of life,” said Horgam. “People and businesses urgently need support. Our action plan focuses on services to protect people’s health and safety, gives immediate relief to people and businesses, and plans for B.C.’s economic recovery over the long term.”
B.C. has been hit particularly hard.
As of this posting, there have been 659 confirmed cases, 14 deaths and 26 people are in intensive care. Only Ontario has more deaths at this point and Quebec has more confirmed cases.
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Once a bustling city, Vancouver now resembles a ghost town.
The province, like others, has taken extreme measures to try and stem the spread of the virus.
Dine in restaurants, bars and pubs, non-essential stores, sports facilities and ski hills are all shuttered to stop people from assembling.
On Vancouver’s Granville St., where revellers usually gather in the hundreds on any given night, is now nearly empty.
“At this point in time, particularly in the next two weeks as we are trying to delay the onset, prevent the transmission of this virus, we need to continue to not meet in groups of… ten, groups of twenty, small groups, even two or three can sometimes be that transmission point,” said Bonnie Henry, public health officer for B.C.
For Inez Cook, she’s not waiting for the government money to come in.
She’s adjusted her business model to offer deliver through Uber Eats.
And in this world of uncertainty, the government support will be a much needed boost for businesses like Salmon Bannock.
“It’s really, really frightening what’s happening,” she said. “Hopefully it won’t last that much longer and we will be able to open our doors because we really like giving the full experience to our guests.
“We are very hospitable we like sharing our culture its so important to us sometimes its hard to relay that through an app but we are doing our best.”