Small businesses throughout Ontario have been suffering from the onset of the pandemic, however, the hardest hit businesses are those in the event services industry. Lockdowns and restrictions have made it impossible for these businesses to earn any income while still having to pay the bills. Many businesses across the industry were not eligible for government loan programs, grants, and subsidies like the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA), the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Program (HASCAP), the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), and more. Loan programs offered by governments and loan deferrals by banks have increased business overhead and left these businesses in a catastrophic situation. Soon, many of these businesses will be forced to close.
So why has this happened you ask? This is the forgotten industry for a reason. This has happened because the industry does not have a voice. They do not have an association. Industries, both large and small, often have associations to best represent their interests, especially industries the size of event services. These associations have had success with federal and provincial governments in seeking sector specific funding. The event services industry should not be forgotten because they do not have a voice, especially during a pandemic. However, the reality is they have been forgotten which exposes the dire need for the industry to have an association.
If the event services industry works together, this void can be filled. The industry can gain a voice and save thousands of small businesses across Ontario from closing. Other associations have been successful in receiving sector specific funding and the event services industry deserves the same. The Small Business Events Services Association (SBESA) was recently formed to unite all businesses and associations in the event services industry to create one unified voice, bringing strength in numbers. The association has members who sit in a work group created for the industry and led by the Hon. Lisa MacLeod MPP, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries and Kevin Finnerty, Assistant Deputy Minister, Culture Division, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. The association is also in ongoing discussions with many supportive MPPs such as the Vice-Chair of the Social Policy Committee and Special Advisor to the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Deepak Anand, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs and Standing Committee on General Government Member, Amarjot Sandhu, and the Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria. They have also aligned their coalition with the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA) and continue discussions with Tony Elenis, President & CEO . They are also in ongoing discussion with many associations and institutions in the industry such as the Canadian Event Venue Association (CEVA), GTA Banquet Halls and Event Venues, Canadian Professional Disc Jockey Association, and the list is growing. The association has promising political support, however, it needs support from the entire event services industry.
SBESA’s immediate objective is to unite all small businesses in the event services industry to create one voice as a plea for immediate help. Any association’s voice is only as strong as the members that stand behind it. The greater the membership numbers, the stronger SBESA’s voice will be.
All event services can register for free at sbesa.ca.