'We got forgotten': Kitchener business ineligible for provincial grant
KITCHENER -- A Kitchener business is calling on the province for financial support.
KW Sauna, a day spa that has four different types of saunas, opened its doors to the public in January 2020. Two months later it was forced to close due to the pandemic and hasn't been open since.
"Businesses like ours were to remain closed," Victoria Vorosilka, the co-owner, said. "Even in the green zone, so what does it mean? Like when are we allowed to be open? Is the government telling us never?"
"Throughout the pandemic we have implemented measures designed to limit opportunities for individuals to have close contact with others in order to help stop the spread of this virus," a statement from the Ministry of Health said in part. "The government will continue to assess the data and apply adjustments based on lessons learned thus far to ensure appropriate and effective measures are in place to protect the health of Ontarians."
Vorosilka said she and her fiancé put their life savings into opening KW Sauna, borrowing money from friends and family to open. Since the pandemic, Vorosilka says her business is on the brink of bankruptcy.
"It's been very stressful because every month you don't know if you're going to make it," she said.
During the first lockdown, KW Sauna received a $40,000 loan from the federal government, as well as a rent subsidy that covers 75 per cent of the rent, which runs out in June.
"It's still not enough to cover all the expenses and to cover the debt," Vorosilka said.
Vorosilka said she hasn't gotten any support from the province. The most recent Small Business Support Grant specifically excludes saunas from the grant.
In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade said it cannot comment on specific businesses, but said only businesses that were required to close or significantly restrict services due to the province-wide shutdown effective Dec. 26, 2020 are eligible for the Small Business Support Grant.
KW Sauna was already closed prior to that shutdown.
"We feel like we got forgotten," Vorosilka said.
She is now calling on the provincial government to work with her and other sauna businesses in Ontario to support them and to be part of the reopening framework.