6-week delay for business bailout amid coronavirus pandemic may be too long: biz orgs

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Small businesses are set to receive federal funding as their revenue dries up during the coronavirus pandemic, but according to some organizations that represent employers, it may be too little, too late.

The federal government has said that eligible companies will get 75 per cent of salaries covered, if they’ve lost 30 per cent of their revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Loren Remillard told 680 CJOB the funding is good news, but the problem lies in the delay of six weeks before businesses can get their hands on the money.

“This is a significant investment in protecting our economy and supporting business. The challenge is that good news is going to take so long to reach businesses and by that time, many might not be around,” said Remillard.

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“We have heard extensively from our members that a 30-day window was really a make-it-or-break-it period for them.

“A six-week delay just potentially could come when many companies have already made the decision to close their doors.”

Remillard said the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is meeting with federal officials on a daily basis as part of a push to expedite the funds.

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“Even shaving off two, three weeks will make a difference. When we think six weeks, for some, that’s three pay periods, and that’s significant,” he said.

“If we can get that down… I think many businesses would be in a better position.”

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Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), told 680 CJOB the six-week wait is likely to result in more layoffs from employers who can’t hold on that long.

“There have been tons of layoffs already — a couple million Canadians — but most employers have yet to lay off staff. These are happening in waves… Every day goes by, there are more of them,” he said.

“Maybe a business has seen a drop in sales, maybe even already shut down, but are unsure they’re going to be able to give the evidence that the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) is going to need at the end of this or can’t afford to wait six weeks that they’re going to have to wait to get the money.

“Their employees that they’ve been hanging on to, I suspect, they’ll be making decisions very soon to start rounds of layoffs and I don’t think the program’s going to be fast enough for them.”

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