“Loans alone are not going to cut it,” said Johns. “Businesses can’t afford more debt.”
Johns and NDP Finance Critic, Peter Julian, called on the government to help small and medium businesses pay their commercial rent weeks ago. Despite the Prime Minister’s promise to help small businesses last week, people are still waiting for money to arrive as May 1 approaches.
“The B.C. Chamber of Commerce and Restaurants Canada are both saying that half of establishments that have closed don’t expect to re-open. We are on the cliff right now, with half of businesses unable to pay their rent,” said Johns. “Instead of letting these businesses fall, the government needs to lend a helping hand during these unprecedented circumstances.”
Johns also asked the Minister to consider gross revenue as a more equitable qualifier for support, arguing that it is better to help these businesses now rather than losing federal taxes if they go out of business.
“Despite changes to the Canadian Emergency Business Account and the lowered threshold for payroll, the reality is a lot of proprietors are still falling through the cracks,” explained Johns. “If people aren’t making any revenue how can they pay rent? Its not the landlords’ fault either, they also have bills to pay. The onus needs to be on the government to step in and help before people have to permanently close their businesses.”
New Democrats continue to urge the government to make the Canada Emergency Response Benefit universal for all Canadians to extend the planned rent support to help people with their residential rent as well so that no one is left behind.