As the weeks pass and the numbers come in, we are seeing the toll that this pandemic is having on our local businesses and jobs.
March job loss numbers across the country paint a grim picture: 1.01 million jobs were lost in Canada, with 132,000 jobs lost in B.C. This is the largest single month of job losses on record. Another sobering statistic: since March 15, almost 6 million Canadians have applied for EI or the CERB.
With each job lost, there is a family in crisis: a family who is worried about how they are going to put food on the table and make ends meet. Each job lost reminds us of the urgency of the situation we find ourselves in.
Business owners are heartbroken at having to lay off employees. They know all too well what is at stake. They also see everything they have worked so hard for falling apart. They are very worried. I have heard from business owners and employers here in Delta and across the country how desperate they are to keep their people working and keep their doors open.
I would like to highlight two major initiatives of the federal government that are being delivered to support businesses in this time of crisis.
The first is the Canada Emergency Business Account, which will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits to help cover their operating costs. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before Dec. 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 per cent. Banks in Delta are available to assist businesses in accessing these loans. I urge every small business and non-profit to explore this option.
The second is the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. I was in Ottawa this past Saturday to participate in passing this subsidy into law. This subsidy will cover 75 per cent of an employee’s wages for employers of all sizes (with payroll of $50,000 to $1 million) and across all sectors, including non-profits and charities. The employer must have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15 per cent in March, and 30 per cent in April and May. The subsidy will provide up to $847 per employee, per week, between March 15 and June 6.
There will also be a 100 per cent refund for employer-paid contributions to EI and CPP. This will allow many businesses to keep staff on, rehire staff, and position themselves to rebound when the crisis has passed.
We are working with the Delta Chamber of Commerce, the Tsawwassen Business Improvement Association, and the Ladner Business Association to get businesses information as quickly as possible on the subsidy. I encourage businesses to keep as many employees on payroll as possible, even if there is little or no work available for them to do. Perhaps less busy businesses would consider lending out employees to volunteer with local non-profits providing essential services to our most vulnerable.
Finally, I’ll mention that we are deferring GST/HST remittances and customs duty payments until June 30, and aredeferring corporate income tax payments until Aug. 31. There are also a variety of other new initiatives to address liquidity challenges and access credit. Together, these measures are aimed at helping with cash flow over the upcoming months.
It feels insufficient to say that we are working incredibly hard to deliver the support that businesses and workers need. Every day, we roll up our sleeves and strive to do everything we can to keep businesses operational. Our SME’s [small-medium enterprises] are the backbone of our economy, and will be pivotal as we recover from this crisis.
Please know that my team and I are here to support you in any way we can.