Raitt Hosts Business Roundtable

By: Laura Steiner Editor/ Reporter

Former Milton MP Lisa Raitt hosted a business roundtable with Milton Strong recently to find out how the local businesses were doing in adapting to the changes brought by COVID-19.

Panelists included Troy Newton, owner of Troy’s Diner, Accountant Melissa Coulson, and Jason Kalinowski from Gordon Food Services (GFS). They tackled issues from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and mental health.

Melissa Coulson is an accountant with her own practice employing eight others according to her website. “It’s been stressful,” she said of the pandemic. She found herself needing to learn quickly as the federal government brought out the aid programs on a nearly daily basis so that she could best advise her clients. In March, her business was at touched on a personal level, one of the employees’ relatives tested positive for COVID-19. She immediately closed her business for 14 days. They have since resumed office hours with COVID precautions. Coulson urges people to pay attention to employees’ mental health. “Be aware of the mental health of your team,” she said.

Troy Newton has kept his diner open at first offering takeout, and delivery only through online, and through food delivery apps. Newton was relieved Milton got the go ahead to allow patios. He has been using the 75% wage subsidy to bring back some of his staff. He’s also been able to advantage of the Emergency interest-free business loans offered by the federal government. He worries his precarious success will make him ineligible for other benefits. “At some point I might penalize myself,” he said.

Jason Kalinowski is a Business Solutions Specialist at Gordon Food Service. He talked about his experience in creating a customer-facing store for GFS, and helping clients to procure much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). He believes the future for restaurants is to diversify by offering half-frozen meals such as Brydens.

There was a shared concern over the future of small business. Well-known Pierogi restaurant Mama’s Perogies has permanently closed its doors on its main street location. Grassroots Facebook groups like Milton Strong continue to help spread the word about small businesses. It’s known for its positivity, with members posting pictures, and talking of their experiences.