'The banks are not waiting for us': N.S. small business owners rally for financial support during third lockdown

Business owners are working hard to stay open and positive, but it's been challenging as Nova Scotia navigates through a third lockdown.

Like many business owners, Ashley Butler packs a balloon order for 'curbside pickup' at her party store in Lower Sackville, N.S.

The switch to curbside pickup has become a common trend as tightened restrictions remain in place throughout Nova Scotia after a spike in COVID-19 cases.

"Now we're going through wave number three and it's scary because you have to lay off your staff, you have to cancel weddings, that's part of our industry," says Butler.

Butler, along with dozens of small business owners across the province signed a letter to Premier Iain Rankin asking for financial support during these uncertain times.

In Chester, N.S., cafe owner Lynda Flinn is worried about her staff.

"I have 21 employees all wanting a paycheck every two weeks -- it's been a little bit of a juggle -- who could work, how many people," Flinn says.

"I have way too many staff working but I want to continue paying them to get them through this as well."

Trudie Muggah runs a nutrition and esthetics business in Port Hawkesbury, N.S. She worries about what will happen if case numbers continue to climb and restrictions remain in place.

"Eventually there's going to be an expiry date on that product. The longer we're closed, the longer my product is just sitting on that shelf and can't be used. (It) will have to be thrown in the garbage, eventually, if the services can't be offered."

In Nova Scotia's COVID-19 update on Friday, Premier Rankin said he's received many letters and he knows some businesses have shut down. But he said he wants everyone to know the province is working hard with its vaccine rollout plan.

Business owners say while they understand health and safety is top priority, there's no doubt it's been tough at times.

"If we knew that this was a two week shutdown we might, just might, be able to get by with the skin of our teeth," says Cathy Hope, a Halifax boutique owner.

"But the reality is, it's probably going to be longer than two weeks and even two weeks cuts into the bills that we have to pay. The banks are not waiting for us, the power commission is not waiting for us, and our landlords are not waiting for us."

The premier says he hopes to have an update on both the small business impact grant and the property tax rebate program on Monday.

Meanwhile, small business owners say they are grateful for all the support they have received from residents -- many ordering online, or doing curbside pickup.