Manitoba’s small businesses will get a little extra help accessing federal subsidy programs to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Premier Brian Pallister said local company 24-7 Intouch will operate a small call centre to reach out to local businesses to help them access the 75 per cent wage subsidy and Canada Emergency Business Account, which offers interest-free loans up to $40,000.
Pallister said many small businesses are having troubles navigating the federal application process and accessing funds that are available to them. The call centre at 24-7 Intouch will help guide businesses through finding where they need to go for help.
“It is crucial that we help our small business community, our non-profits, our charitable organizations to get the government supports and the resources that they need to weather this storm as soon as possible.”
“We’ve never been here before, but … we do know how to stay focused on our goals,” said Pallister, praising local small businesses as the backbone of the economy.
“This government is thinking of them — every day.”
Manitoba lost 23,000 jobs last month, said Pallister.
“This month will be worse.”
Because the federal programs “answer most of the concerns … we believe they can serve as bridges to recovery,” said Pallister.
The Manitoba Chamber of Commerce said it hears from businesses daily that have questions and need help.
“We get daily calls,” President Chuck Davidson said. “80 per cent of Manitoba businesses have been significantly impacted financially by this. They have zero revenue coming in and expenses still coming out.”
Davidson said he applauds the provincial government for the interim program but said after businesses take advantage of federal funding, there will still need to be provincial programs to help bridge the gaps.
“Once we see how (the federal programs) are rolled out we will see gaps and key sectors that are important for Manitoba’s recovery,” Davidson said.
He said at that point, the provincial government will also need to step up.
There were no new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba as of Easter Sunday. A probable case was determined to be a false positive, so the case count stands at 242.
Eight people are hospitalized, four in an intensive care unit. Four people have died and 96 have recovered.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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