In these difficult days when all levels of government throughout the country are collectively committing hundreds of billions of dollars to help us perservere through the COVID-19 pandemic, I too often hear the complaint that “so and so is getting something,” and “I’m important, too,” or “I’m in an essential service and still working” — “why am I not getting anything?”
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It is really important to emphasise that this huge effort is not about everybody “getting something,” but about helping everybody get through the crisis. It’s NOT about everybody getting a juicy piece of the pie, or whether, perhaps, somebody else might have a bigger piece; it’s about seeing that everybody who needs it gets at least a crust of bread to keep them going.
This means people who, when schools or daycares closed due to COVID-19, had to stop working in order to look after their children; it means people who were laid off because of business downturns or closures due to COVID-19; it means self-employed people who don’t qualify for EI but whose businesses were shut down due to COVID-19; it means students who can’t get a summer job this year, due to COVID-19, which puts their education and their future at risk… to name a few.
This crisis has thrust many, many people into dire financial circumstances, suddenly unable to pay the rent or the mortgage and put food on the table.
This also means businesses. Some are doing OK, or even thriving, regardless. Many are not. This crisis has put many businesses, particularly small businesses, the backbone of our economy, at extreme risk of permanent closure and bankruptcy.
We absolutely need these businesses to survive so that they are in a position to kick back-in at some point, so that the economy as a whole is in a position to kick back-in and so there will be jobs for people to go back to, and so we will be able again to produce all the goods and services a thriving country needs.
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So, we’re offering such businesses deferments for GST, and for income tax, and customs duties. And for qualifying businesses we’re offering guarantees to banks to extend credit, including interest-free loans. We’re working with the provinces and territories to establish commercial rent supports, and we’re offering to subsidise employee wages so that businesses can retain their employees and remain poised to restart when the time comes.
We also know that due to shortages and price increases that have arisen due to COVID-19 there are many people on fixed incomes who are struggling as well. We are addressing these needs in a number of ways, such as by increasing the GST Rebate for low-income people, and adding funding to non-profits and such who provide services to elderly people and other vulnerable groups. But we do know it’s not enough, and we are working on additional solutions.
The bottom line is this: nobody is supposed to be getting rich on these supports, whether an individual or a business — and that’s the point; it really is just about helping everybody to get through it until their normal income stream can resume.
Please go to Canada.ca/CoronaVirus for the latest information on all aspects of the federal government COVID-19-panedmic response. In particular: