The Manitoba government is increasing its budget for the Manitoba Bridge Grant and will be making a fourth round of up to $5,000 payments for eligible businesses and organizations to help protect them through the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We delayed the third wave coming into Manitoba and now we have to shorten the time it is here. That is why on Friday we introduced new, strict public health measures to curb the spread of the variants and reduce the strain on our health-care system,” said Premier Brian Pallister. “We recognize this quick closure for many businesses will have a significant impact on their operations, particularly the restaurant industry who we know were preparing for a busy Mother’s Day weekend. Our government remains committed to delivering the right programs at the right times to help individual Manitobans and businesses through these challenging times.”
Through a fourth round of payments, the province will provide up to $71 million in immediate financial support to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, not-for-profits and charities impacted by the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System. This brings the total program investment to $286 million, which is $86 million above the province’s original commitment of $200 million.
Eligible businesses that received prior bridge grant payments will automatically receive a fourth payment of up to $5,000 beginning as early as Friday, May 14 and will be notified of the deposit via email.
“CFIB is pleased the government of Manitoba is extending the Manitoba Bridge Grant automatically to businesses that previously received it and providing additional support to restaurants to help cover additional costs related to food spoilage,” said Jonathan Alward, director, Prairie region, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “Just one-third of Manitoba’s small businesses are making normal revenues for this time of year, so CFIB and other business organizations have called for this program to be extended as it has been an effective tool to provide financial relief to thousands of businesses across the province quickly and with minimum red tape.”
The province also announced an additional $2,000 top-up for restaurants in addition to the $5,000 Manitoba Bridge Grant payment to help cover the costs of food waste, employee wages, maintenance or insurance. Approximately 1,800 restaurants will benefit from this assistance, totalling $3.6 million.
The province created the Manitoba Bridge Grant in November 2020 to provide upfront funding to businesses, not-for-profits and charities directly affected by public health restrictions and temporarily ordered to close their storefronts to the public.
The program was expanded to support home-based businesses indirectly impacted by public health orders. Eligibility criteria was later expanded to include hotels, resorts, lodges and outfitters, travel agencies, janitorial services companies and owner/operators of licensed passenger transportation businesses that saw demand for their services impacted by public health orders.
An additional $2 million will also be provided to the Dine-In Restaurant Relief program to help restaurants shift their operations toward a delivery model. The Dine-in Restaurant Relief Program, administered by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce in partnership with the Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association, launched in January 2021 to provide a rebate to dine-in restaurants that shifted to a delivery model due to public health restrictions. The program helps offset costs related to delivery services, whether a restaurant provides its own delivery service or uses a third-party delivery company.
“While we urge Manitobans to stay home as much as possible over the next few weeks, we also want to encourage Manitobans to continue to support our many small businesses,” said Pallister. “The best thing we can do for our local business community right now is to bend our COVID-19 curve down, so they can get back to doing what they do best, employ Manitobans and offer services Manitobans rely on.”
More information about business supports in Manitoba are available at gov.mb.ca.