North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is calling on ministers to fix programs leaving local businesses behind.
In a letter to the Minister of Small Business, Mary Ng, and the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, she says that many businesses in her riding “are not getting the support they need during the COVID-19 crisis.”
“Especially in more rural and remote communities, local businesses as small as one person provide critical services and are really the heart and soul of our towns,” Blaney says. “They can’t be left behind by the government to struggle and go under while we take necessary steps to fight this virus.”
After gathering feedback from many local business owners, Blaney’s letter points out “shortcomings in the government programs.”
She’s offering some solutions “to ensure the greatest number of these businesses make it through the pandemic and are able to continue contributing to healthy local economies once this is over.”
Blaney says “issues with eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are ruling out many small businesses who rely mostly on contract labour, or whose proprietor is paid dividends rather than a wage.”
Some business owners are “encountering additional barriers to the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) imposed by banks that were not part of the government requirements,” she says.
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) has a “very high threshold of 70 per cent revenue loss with no support for those with slightly fewer losses and no clarity for landlords who own the property outright,” Blaney adds. “And, the Regional Relief and Recovery Funds (RRRF) hasn’t yet been rolled out in many communities.”
Blaney’s letter asks the ministers to ensure that funding is distributed with a renewed sense of urgency, as she says “many of the businesses, communities and people in my riding are depending on it.”