Although two months of solid job gains are encouraging, it’s still likely to be a long, bumpy journey to the end of the pandemic tunnel for Canadian business-owners and their employees as the third wave of COVID-19 breaks across the country, threatening to disrupt the positive trends we’ve seen in today’s numbers.
(OTTAWA) – November 3, 2020 – Today the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Director of Parliamentary Affairs and SME Policy, Alla Drigola, released the following statement on Bill C-9, concerning commercial rent support and the wage subsidy:
“We were very pleased to see Bill C-9 be tabled by the federal government yesterday. Overall, it addresses many of the concerns raised by businesses in our conversations with parliamentarians of all stripes, but there is room for tweaking to reflect the reality of the hardest hit sectors. We are hopeful, on behalf of Canadian businesses, that all parties in the House of Commons can work together to ensure the legislation will be amended, passed, and implemented with the urgency so greatly needed.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program is one of the government’s most successful programs and we are pleased to see the government cancel the planned program phase-out and instead extend the program through June 30, 2021. However, as businesses continue to struggle through this second wave, the reduced subsidy of up to 65% is out of step with the support provided in the first wave and over the summer. We are hopeful the government will return to a higher wage subsidy rate of at least 75% for businesses experiencing ongoing significant revenue declines.
The redesigned commercial rent subsidy program is a very welcome improvement over its predecessor, and will increase access to the program. Providing support directly to tenants and extending the program to reflect the long-term nature of the crisis are important upgrades. However, the government has repeated one crucial mistake of the beleaguered CECRA program: a failure to remove arbitrary caps from the new program, moving from a revenue cap to a new corporate entity cap of $300,000. This punishes businesses that have several locations, especially those in expensive downtown cores. Businesses in the hardest hit sectors, such as the food service and travel industries, that have several locations have compounded challenges by operating several locations, and need fair and equal access to the program. We hope MPs of all stripes will work together to fix this relic of the problematic CECRA program, and allocate the subsidy on a strictly per-location need.
As this crisis continues, particularly as lockdowns are put in place, it is imperative for government programs of all kinds to continue to be there to help keep Canadian businesses afloat and keep Canadians employed. Reopening and recovery for many parts of our economy, particularly for restaurants, hospitality, travel, and tourism, is likely to extend for the next 12-18 months. Government programs must continue to reflect this reality.
We thank Parliamentarians on all sides for working together – both with one another and with Canadians – to continue to fix problems as they are identified as this crisis evolves.”
About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Because Business Matters
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce helps build the businesses that support our families, our communities and our country. We do this by influencing government policy, by providing essential business services and by connecting businesses to information they can use, to opportunities for growth and to a network of local chambers, businesses, decision-makers and peers from across the country, in every sector of the economy and at all levels of government, as well as internationally. We are unapologetic in our support for business and the vital role it plays in building and sustaining our great nation.
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