The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has found that over 20,000 small businesses in B.C. are in danger of going out of business due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That number doesn’t include businesses that have already closed due to COVID-19. CFIB estimates that closures in B.C. will see 21,116 of business at risk.

This information comes from a survey that was completed by over 5,000 CFIB members. The survey also showed that one in seven small businesses in Canada is at risk of going under.

Vanessa Riplinger is the president of the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce, said that she is aware of two businesses that have closed their doors for good due to COVID-19.

She said that as small businesses face the road to recovery, it is going to be a community effort to get small businesses on the right track.

“I think the biggest thing is we need to support our local economy, we need to support our local businesses,” she said. “When we need something for our children, we go to our local businesses. Be it fundraising or anything like that in time like this; we are a fairly resilient community. We come together, and we need to support each other. Out businesses always supported non-profits, and we need to turn around and really support our local businesses and give them that boost right back.”

Both the City and Chamber of Commerce have been helping out businesses apply for grants, and keep out to date with any type of relief.

“We’ve kept close contact with both the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to find out what is happening, what reliefs are being sent out, and we have been making sure that the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce knows what’s happening in our community and our difficulties moving forward so that we are all on the same page.”

Riplinger said that she believes Williams Lake has done the best it can to open back up.

“I’ve watched businesses open up, and some are wearing masks in some cases for the ones that are in closer contact,” she said. “I think Williams Lake has done a really good job of trying to keep people safe in their industries, so everybody has done what they can to try to manage this and open up the best that we can.”

She noted that everyone in Williams Lake is going to play a part in the recovery.

“I think if we want Williams Lake to thrive, we need to support small business, we need to support each other,” Riplinger said. “If we want our community to be the best it can be and want to come out of this, we need to look after our community and shop local and support our local businesses.”

The CFIB is tracking small businesses’ recovery throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to their data, in B.C., only 60 per cent of small businesses are fully open, 37 per cent are fully staffed, and 27 per cent are recording normal sales.