VICTORIA -- The owner of Bear and Joey on Cook Street began planning the restaurant in 2017. In May of this year, he was finally ready to open for business.

Because of the pandemic, the restaurant is currently running at about a 30 per cent seating capacity. Owner Peter Woods says his restaurant – and other new businesses that have opened since the pandemic began – are at an unfair disadvantage because they can’t qualify for any financial relief from the federal government.

“Because we don’t have financials for 2019 or financials for January and February of 2020, we simply don’t qualify for rent or wage subsidies, which I feel is pretty tough,” Woods said. “We’re facing the same problems that everyone else is since we opened in May.”

“We’ve paid a considerable amount of taxes. We’ve paid big rent to be where we are. We’re simply not on the same playing field as our competitors right now.”

This situation has caught the attention of Victoria’s Member of Parliament, Laurel Collins. She says she has been pushing the government to fill these holes in the system, and plans to keep doing so.

“Constantly, I’ve shared Bear and Joey’s story, along with a number of other Victoria businesses,” said Collins. “Our critic Gord Johns got up last night and was talking about Bear and Joey and many other businesses in the House of Commons.”

“We’re going to keep pushing the government on this and try to get these businesses the support that they deserve.”

Bear and Joey employs 25 people and hopes that with the attention it has recently received will soon lead to change.