It has now been a year since Ontario hunkered down to battle COVID-19. Though it started as an extended March break for the kids and a few weeks of working from home, it quickly became apparent that we would be in for the long haul.
It feels like we’re finally on the home stretch. A fourth, single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is now approved for use in Canada and our governments are promising to have vaccines available to all in the coming months.
But we’re not there yet. Our region’s regression into red zone restrictions highlights the need for all of us to be careful and vigilant.
Local businesses have faced a year of frustration, stress, and for many — severe financial loss. The rainy-day reserves have long since been used up and debt levels are making it difficult to be able to continue borrowing.
Wage and Rent Subsidy Extension
The Government of Canada announced recently that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) programs will
continue at the current support rates until June, providing some much-needed certainty and financial support for businesses.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) Repayment
The Canada Emergency Business Account has been an important lifeline for many small businesses across the country by providing vital access to capital. Businesses in our hardest hit sectors will likely take several years to have their cashflow return to pre-2020 levels as they
service their debts, rebuild their customer base and continue to modernize. These sectors include accommodation, food service, arts, entertainment,
recreation, and retail.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is asking the Government of Canada to:
• Extend by two years the repayment deadline for eligibility for loan forgiveness for the Canada Emergency Business Account to
December 31, 2024
• Implement an income-based payment plan — similar to the CEWS eligibility criteria — for businesses that require longer to recover from the challenges of COVID-19
These modifications will help businesses through recovery and ease the current stress and anxiety many small business owners are dealing with.
Limit non-essential regulations
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is joining chambers of
commerce and boards of trade across the country in calling on our government leaders to resist the urge to develop new non-essential regulations that will require extensive engagement from the private sector and take away from its ability to focus on the health and safety of employees, contractors and the communities in which they do business.
Keeping up-to-date and
adapting to the latest public health measures is already a challenge for many businesses.
Freeze the alcohol tax
In 2017, the government brought in automatic tax increases for alcohol. The next increase is slated for April 1. We are calling on the Government of Canada to freeze the alcohol tax rate.
The food-service industry — restaurants, pubs, bars, and all their suppliers, including breweries, farmers, and their logistics companies — are among the hardest-hit right now. Successful restaurants had profit margins of four to six per cent when times were good; there’s just no way to make the math work with indoor dining closed or significantly reduced.
Businesses need local support
The most important resource for local businesses is the support of their customers and the community as a whole. We all need to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and work our way back to few local cases and few social and business restrictions. We also need to continue patronizing our favourite local businesses.