Advocacy is an important part of how the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce supports local businesses. We have an opportunity to submit two resolutions to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to go before its membership in the fall for a vote on whether to include these items as part of the Canadian Chamber’s national advocacy efforts.
Our two resolutions are:
The CEBA program has been a vital lifeline for businesses with nearly 900,000
approved for loans. The generous terms of this loan have been exactly what many businesses needed.
Circumstances have changed since this program launched in early April of 2020. The government has shown
flexibility in expanding
eligibility criteria and
increasing access to funds, but the repayment terms have not been updated to reflect the length of time businesses have been
expected to reduce their
access to the public.
Unfortunately, the economic impact of COVID-19 has hit some businesses harder than others. Many businesses in sectors including food service, hospitality, tourism, arts and entertainment, retail, and personal service have spent a significant portion of the last year and a half heavily
restricted — if not
completely closed — to the public. It’s not uncommon for businesses to carry a debt in good times, but one can only imagine the level of debt some business owners have incurred just to survive. They carry debt to their lending institutions, landlords,
suppliers and in some cases, have leveraged personal assets and borrowed from friends and family.
Under the current terms, the loan is interest free until December 31, 2022, at which point it increases to 5%. Those who pay back 67% of the balance of their loan by that date will have the remainder of their loan
forgiven. Full repayment is due by December 31, 2025.
The result is the most
vulnerable businesses will also get the least benefit from this program, resulting in significant interest incurred and the requirement to pay back 100% of the
principal — dragging out their recovery even longer. Additionally, the
government will be forced into the unpopular position of collecting on their debts from the most vulnerable
businesses who often employ our most vulnerable people.
We’re asking the
Government of Canada to allow businesses to re-apply for the CEBA loan annually with a schedule that shows that businesses who have struggled to recover will not incur interest and will get a larger portion of their debt forgiven. For those who have not yet recovered by the end of 2025, we’re asking that the entire loan be forgiven.
High Frequency Rail Strategy
VIA Rail, a Crown
operates the only national passenger rail service,
controlling most passenger service outside of urban
commuter networks. In most areas of the country,
passenger service operates on the same network as freight. Passenger service typically must yield to much slower freight service. These network conflicts happen regularly and result in slow and inconsistent service.
High Frequency Rail networks eliminate this conflict by
providing a dedicated
network for passengers.
VIA is currently working to improve service along the busy Windsor — Quebec City corridor. This includes a proposed High Frequency Rail network with dedicated tracks between Toronto –
Ottawa – Montréal – Québec City. This proposal will assure the corporation can maximize ridership and revenue and improve their on-time
performance to over 95%.
The hybrid electric-diesel trains running on this route will dramatically reduce
carbon emissions by 12.5
million tons of CO2e, the equivalent of a car-pool reduction of 2.8 million vehicles.
Dedicated tracks solve VIA’s congestion problems, increase its efficiency and profitability, create economic development while
remaining environmentally friendly, and will give
commuters better access to communities not
traditionally served by transit. It is important to note that track improvements for passenger service will offer significant benefits to current and future freight users.
This will increase economic development, improve
environmental sustainability, and allow for movement of people and goods in unprecedented ways — all of which enhance the lives of Canadians. The busy Windsor – Quebec City rail corridor currently services an area where 19 million Canadians reside.
The VIA HFR project has been under consideration by the federal government since 2016. The 2021 federal budget included nearly $500 million in funding toward due diligence, de-risk and
infrastructure projects that support the proposal. The project is in the mandate
letter for the Minister of Transport. But the federal government has yet to
provide a funding
commitment to build the line nor has a timeline for construction been set.
We’re asking the Government of Canada to prioritize high frequency rail service as a key part of meeting our climate change target as well as
commit funding and set a timeline for the
implementation of the VIA High Frequency Rail Project between Toronto and Quebec City.