Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade from across the country have been busy advocating for the business community.
This past week was the virtual Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Convention. A key part of this annual event is policy debate. This is when chambers and boards of trade put together resolutions on local business issues that have national significance and put it to the Canadian Chamber’s membership to debate. The resolutions are vetted through committees before being taken to a vote at the debate. This year members discussed 69 resolutions over 7 hours on the debate floor.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce had both its resolutions endorsed by the membership, which puts them on the books for the Canadian Chamber next three years to advocate directly to the federal
CEBA Loan Forgiveness for the Hardest Hit Businesses
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program has been a lifeline for many businesses, offering generous terms with loans up to $60,000. Organizations that pay back two-thirds of their loan by Dec. 31, 2022 will get the remaining third forgiven. Those that don’t are ineligible for debt forgiveness and begin incurring interest at 5%.
The issue is that the pandemic has gone on longer with prolonged public health restrictions, well beyond what was being forecasted when the terms were drawn up. Our hardest hit businesses are going to need more time to rebuild themselves, boost consumer confidence, and begin repaying money back to all the places from which they’ve borrowed.
We are asking the Government of Canada to:
1. Extend the deadlines for repayment of the Canada Emergency Business Account program by two years.
2. Make the forgivable portion of the loan available to all business that continue to have operations
impacted by ongoing COVID-19 public health restrictions throughout 2021.
3. Allow businesses that continue to have operations impacted by ongoing COVID-19 public healthrestrictions in 2021 to be exempt from incurring interest prior to the balance of their loan being due.
High Frequency Rail (HFR) Project by VIA Rail Canada
The Chamber has been advocating for the return of passenger rail service to Peterborough for more than a decade. The current proposal from VIA Rail would see a dedicated passenger rail corridor connecting Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City with a stop in Peterborough.
The proposal would help us meet our climate change targets by removing 12.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of a carpool reduction of 2.8 million vehicles annually. It would open up access through eastern Ontario and Quebec, driving economic growth. Having dedicated passenger lines would allow VIA to provide frequent and reliable service, bringing it to profitability within a few years. The VIA HFR project directly impacts an area of the country with 19 million people and frees up bottlenecks for national transportation.
The federal government has begun investing in some of the infrastructure related to the project, but building the line itself has yet to get the green light despite being under consideration since 2016. The project is in the mandate letter on the desk of the Minister of Transport. This is why the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce teamed up with the Quebec Chamber of Commerce and Industry to bring this to the Canadian Chamber and its members.
We’re asking the Government of Canada to:
1. Approve the overall funding and urge VIA Rail Canada to proceed with the entire HFR project as
soon as possible.
2. Prioritize the HFR project and other passenger rail service as a key part of meeting our climate
3. Develop a strategy for expanding HFR service beyond the current Toronto – Quebec project