March 21, 2020/Ottawa, ON – The Honourable Andrew Scheer, Leader of Canada’s Conservatives and of the Official Opposition, today issued the following statement calling on the federal government to increase support for small businesses and workers affected by COVID-19:
“Conservatives will always support measures to put more money in Canadians’ pockets during this unprecedented time and we are ready to return to Ottawa next week to pass the government’s emergency legislation.
“Small businesses across the country are being particularly hard hit by this crisis and need urgent support. Employers are being forced to lay off workers and have no idea how or if they will survive. Unfortunately, the federal government’s response to date has fallen far short of meeting their needs.
“Conservatives are calling on the federal government to increase support for small businesses and workers, by:
- Significantly increasing the wage subsidy to protect workers;
- Refunding all GST remittances to the small businesses that collected them in at least the last six months; and
- Backstopping banks that extend low interest loans to small businesses.
“To be clear, Conservatives will support the government’s emergency legislation next week. We will also continue to put forward constructive solutions to keep Canadians healthy and safe and to support them during this difficult time. Now more than ever, the government must provide answers and clear timelines so that Canadians know when they can expect to start receiving support.”
Significantly increasing the wage subsidy to protect workers: Many small businesses have already seen catastrophic drops in revenue and are being forced to lay off staff. The 10% wage subsidy the federal government has announced is not adequate to keep workers employed and falls far short of what other countries like the UK are offering.
Refunding all GST remittances to the small businesses that collected them in at least the last six months: Half a million Canadians, or about 2.5% of the labour force, applied for Employment Insurance this week, smashing previous records. By returning GST to the small businesses that have collected it, employers will have the necessary cash flow to cover immediate expenses, including wages, and stay afloat.
Backstopping banks that extend low interest loans to small businesses: The $10 billion offered by EDC and BDC is wholly inadequate, given that Canada’s banking system has $380 billion in outstanding business loans. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses are potentially facing financial distress and require support. The UK has already announced a ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme,’ that offers attractive terms for both businesses and lenders, by providing a government-backed guarantee for 80% of the facility value.