MONTREAL -- Some Quebec small businesses, already struggling after a year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, are facing yet another struggle: higher taxes.

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, 9,000 Quebec businesses could see their taxes rise by 130 per cent for the last year. The raise is due to their ineligibility for a tax break granted to businesses that pay employees for 5,500 hours or more, or the equivalent of 2.5 full-time employees.

“Small businesses need a reduced tax rate to be able to grow, to invest in their employees, to be able to invest in their productivity,” said federation spokesperson Francois Vincent.

Many businesses, especially in the restaurant and bar industries, were forced to shut down during the pandemic, rendering them unable to hit that threshold.

“They will have to pay the same taxation rate as a multinational in Quebec,” said Vincent.

Paul Desbaillets, co-owner of Burgundy Lion Pub, said the higher taxes is yet another blow to an already struggling business.

“If you've been forced to close, how can you possibly have those man-hours to benefit from that discount on what you owe?” he said.

Vincent's organization is calling on Quebec's finance minister to reconsider the tax burden on small businesses. But Desbaillets said the most pressing issue is knowing when he can re-open. Quebec's restaurants have had their dining rooms closed since October, forcing them to rely on takeout. With the province's gyms and spas scheduled to resume operations on March 26, he said the time has come to allow restaurants and bars to do the same.

“Weve proven it wasn't (our industry) that was spreading the virus,” he said. “Now that the jabs are happening (for people over the age of 65 in Montreal), we should be able to get going.”