September 14, 2020

Hello fellow small business owners,

After a long silence, I'm writing to say that we are winding down the Save Small Business campaign, and to give our heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support for these past five months.

We aren’t quitting because the work is done. We’re wrapping this up because after six months of working at this off the side of our desk, in the evenings and on weekends while running our own businesses and raising our families, we've run out of steam.

We're honoured to have been the mouthpiece for this unruly mob of resourceful, adaptable, ingenious and ferociously independent entrepreneurs from across Canada at a time when we had a message that urgently needed to be heard. We’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories of small businesses on the brink and witnessed so many amazing feats of resiliency that none of us will ever be the same.

I want to thank those of you who literally added a full-time job to serve this community on top of attending to their own businesses, families and lives: Jon Shell, Michael Smith and Sally Traynor. To Sara Urbina, Ben Coli, Caitlin Havlak, Hannah Cree, Anil Patel, George Roter, Paul Estey, Farhaan Ladhani, Bill Young, Daina Lawrence, and Aleem Kanji: we wouldn’t have achieved what we did without your contributions. We’re also grateful to John J. Kiru of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas. There are so many more people who contributed and shared stories that I’ve failed to mention. You know who you are: thank you thank you thank you.

Your stories changed the media narrative in this country and helped to form Canadians’ understanding of the economic crisis. When we started, the government had no clue of what was happening to small businesses and the stories we shared with the press and the government changed that.

Sadly, this email is not a declaration of victory. To the contrary, we feel that we have largely failed at what we set out to do. For a brief period of a few weeks, with all of you behind us we felt like we had the momentum to effect the policies needed to save everyone. But in the end, institutional inertia and professional lobbyists prevailed and the policies we were advocating were delayed, watered down and over-complicated.

Some businesses got the support they needed to survive the shutdown, but many, many didn't. If you are one of the Canadian entrepreneurs who lost their life's work to the COVID-19 shutdown, we are truly sorry.

We've written a parting article describing our experience. We hope that it will help inform our new Finance Minister of where the last one went wrong, and help her form a plan for the next steps. Please read it and share.

Again, thank you for your support and for inspiring us again and again with your stubborn strength and resiliency.

Stay strong,

Erin (with Jon, Ben and Michael)