Canadian Chamber addresses Senate Finance Committee, reiterates gaps in Bill C-9

(OTTAWA) – November 12, 2020 – Today the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Director of Parliamentary Affairs and SME Policy, Alla Drigola, released the following statement as she appears before the Senate Finance Committee studying Bill C-9:

“I thank the government, Parliamentarians, and the public service for their efforts in helping Canadians and businesses weather the storm. COVID-19 has not been easy, and the collaboration has been most welcome.

Eight months into this global pandemic, we are seeing a departure from uniform business decline and instead are deep into what economists are calling a K-shaped recovery. The reality is, many sectors are doing well. Many have been able to pivot, adapt and innovate, and the amount of support they require has reduced. But there other sectors that are not recovering and require ongoing and additional support: tourism, travel, accommodations, food service, restaurants fundamentally rely on a physical presence to do business and will not be able to recover until we are on the other side of the pandemic.

On Bill C-9, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce welcomes the changes introduced on the whole. However there remain notable shortcomings that will cause some Canadian businesses to continue to fall through the cracks.

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) should be maintained at 75%, as was provided during the first wave of the pandemic. As businesses become increasingly stretched during the second wave, it is not reasonable to begin decreasing this crucial support, especially for hardest hit sectors.
  • CEWS changes now require employers to provide salary top-ups, which was previously not the case. This puts further pressure on businesses that will increasingly be unable to keep their employees on payroll.

On the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) program, the issues are more complex:

  • The removal of the revenue cap from the problematic CECRA program is appreciated, however it has been replaced with a similarly unhelpful cap, just in a different form:  multi-unit corporate operators cannot claim more than 65% of $300,000 (which is $195,000). This significantly reduces the amount of support provided to medium sized businesses simply based on their ownership structure, versus support being provided to their direct competitors.
  • Businesses operating under strict capacity limitations ought to be able to qualify for the lockdown top-ups. For example, as the legislation is currently designed, a restaurant does not qualify for the top-up if they are allowed to open indoor dining at all, even if their capacity is restricted to 10% or less.
  • Businesses that fell through the cracks of the CECRA program should be able to retroactively apply for rent support back to when the pandemic began, not just October 1.
  • There is no guarantee of when money will flow from CERS. For businesses that were able to access CECRA, it ended six weeks ago. Still more businesses have been without any rent support since March. Money under the CERS program must flow by the end of the month.

The Canadian Chamber looks forward to continuing our collaboration with government, Parliamentarians, and officials in order to ensure the best possible results for Canadians and our businesses as we all navigate these unprecedented times.”

About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Because Business Matters

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce helps build the businesses that support our families, our communities and our country. We do this by influencing government policy, by providing essential business services and by connecting businesses to information they can use, to opportunities for growth and to a network of local chambers, businesses, decision-makers and peers from across the country, in every sector of the economy and at all levels of government, as well as internationally. We are unapologetic in our support for business and the vital role it plays in building and sustaining our great nation.

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For more information, please contact:

Phil Taylor
[email protected]