Last Wednesday during the emergency session of Parliament, I asked Finance Minister Bill Morneau about the federal government’s COVID-19 relief response package for small and medium-size businesses. His answer didn’t instill confidence. (My three questions asked at around 5AM are fast because I only had 150 seconds.)
Today, Minister Morneau once again clarified the government’s wage subsidy program, now set at 75% thanks to pressure from Conservatives & NDP MPs. He said it will open “soon” and businesses will wait six weeks for Ottawa’s wage relief payments. This is deeply alarming.
I am increasingly concerned the Liberal government is overlooking small businesses, those with only a few employees and especially sole proprietorships. I have been hearing from local New Brunswick business owners for the past two weeks. Today, many are telling me the implementation of the wage subsidy program will be too slow, too bureaucratic and misses the mark.
Here’s how one business owner in our riding described the program: “Sadly I’m feeling the small business community will begin to disappear with this kind of an economic downturn and the small (truly small) are being overlooked.”
Government cannot leave behind Canadians who have played by the rules their whole life. I am urging the federal government to listen to small businesses.