Canadian Chamber says agri-sector funding falls short and calls on government to provide more meaningful assistance

(OTTAWA, ON) – May 5, 2020 – The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s President and CEO, Hon. Perrin Beatty, OC, OC, issued the following statement regarding new support for the agriculture and agri-food sector announced today:

“While agricultural businesses work tirelessly to ensure that Canadians continue to see their store shelves stocked, producers and processors alike are increasingly concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 on Canada’s supply chains. According to the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, one-quarter of agricultural businesses report highly-disrupted supply chains, compared to the national average of 15.8%.

“The supports announced today are a first step, but they fall short of what the sector needs and will lead to delays in the ability of agriculture firms to address the impacts of COVID-19. The sector will inevitably require more assistance in the future, and many businesses will suffer in the interim.

“According to the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, almost 40% of agriculture and agri-food-related businesses have seen a significant drop in demand for their goods and services that jeopardises their ability to remain open.

“About one-third of businesses in the sector have reported that they can only last for up to two months without revenues before their businesses begin to fail. This will create significant challenges for a sector where many firms operate on razor-thin profit margins.

“At the same time, agricultural and agri-food businesses need more support to address the seasonal nature of the industry. Many existing programs, such as the wage subsidy, are only applicable until June. More assistance will be needed over the coming months for an industry that conducts most of its business during the summer and fall.”

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For more information, contact: Phil Taylor