Nova Scotia

'It's not enough help:' N.S. grant for cosmetology industry panned by some

The Nova Scotia government has announced funding to help cosmetology businesses impacted by provincial mask restrictions during the latest wave of COVID-19, but some in the industry say it's not enough.

Program to provide one-time grant of $2,500 for eligible businesses

Dana Sharkey, executive director of the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia, says makeup artists lost all of their income when masking restrictions came into effect in December. (Andrii Kobryn/Shutterstock)

The Nova Scotia government has announced funding to help cosmetology businesses impacted by provincial mask restrictions during the latest wave of COVID-19, but some in the industry say it's not enough.

The program announced Thursday will provide certain businesses and practitioners who were directly impacted by the tightened mask requirements announced in December with a one-time grant of $2,500.

It will be available to applicants who earned at least 50 per cent of revenues during 2021 from services that could not be performed without the removal of masks, such as makeup application, facial peels, laser hair removal and dermaplaning.

Krista Anderson, owner of iBrow and Laser Clinic in Bedford, N.S., said the funding is a drop in the bucket when looking at the revenue she lost during the Omicron wave of the pandemic.

Anderson said it's "better than nothing," but she thinks the announcement amounts to an attempt by the government to gain good publicity.

"When you look at the grand scheme of things and the losses and the loans that we've had to take out to cover expenses, it's really not going to cover much of anything," said Anderson, who has been in business for seven years and has three employees.

"It's not enough help."

Krista Anderson, owner of iBrow and Laser Clinic in Bedford, N.S., says business is starting to pick up after a tough few months. (Submitted by Krista Anderson)

Anderson said the last few months have wreaked havoc on her small business. She said December and January are typically very busy months, but business slowed to a crawl after the restrictions were announced.

For the services she could provide, the business grappled with cancellations due to isolations or people being close contacts, or just general overall anxiety about the virus.

She said she is still trying to play catch-up from what has been an extremely tough few years during the pandemic.

Dana Sharkey, executive director of the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia, said she had been working with Minister of Economic Development Susan Corkum-Greek on getting funding for the industry.

But Sharkey said she had been pushing for a larger grant amount of between $5,000 and $10,000. She also thinks it shouldn't have been limited to those affected by mask restrictions.

"Any amount is helpful to our members at this time, but I do feel it should have been offered to all salons and stores due to the restrictions of not only masks, but also the social distancing as well," said Sharkey, whose organization has about 7,500 members and 1,946 salons and spas providewide.

"But we'll take what we can get."

'Some will survive, some will not'

The program also includes an additional $2,500 for businesses who earned more than $45,000 in revenue from eligible services during November 2021.

But Sharkey said you'd be hard-pressed to find a business with that much revenue from those services in one month, and so the majority of businesses won't qualify for the extra funding.

She said the Omicron wave has been the toughest yet for the cosmetology industry.

"We have cosmetologists who usually work a full week ... who are now only working one day if they're lucky. And sometimes they go in for that one day and 90 percent of the clients will cancel," said Sharkey.

"Until the industry bounces back, it's going to be tough on them.... Some will survive, some will not. It's going to take a long time to bounce back. It won't happen overnight."

Applications open Feb. 25

In a news release, Corkum-Greek said her Progressive Conservative government is committed to working with the industry in an effort to recover from the pandemic.

"We are responding to the call for support for those who were directly impacted by the tightened mask restrictions," she said.

"This funding, along with the easing of restrictions this week, will help jump-start business activity in the sector."

Applications for the program open on Feb. 25. The program will cost the government roughly $1 million, depending on uptake.

Anderson said although her business is not considered an essential service, it is essential to her and her livelihood, and to the livelihood of her employees.

"We're always really concerned about being shut down again or more restrictions. That's a constant stress as well," said Anderson.

"[The government] needs to really think about the consequences of the restrictions they put in place and how they're affecting the businesses."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aly Thomson

Reporter/Editor

Aly Thomson is an award-winning journalist based in Halifax who loves helping the people of her home province tell their stories. She is particularly interested in issues surrounding justice, education and the entertainment industry. You can email her with tips and feedback at aly.thomson@cbc.ca.

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