It’s been a tough month for Oakville’s business community. They’re struggling to navigate the economic implications of COVID-19 and many are concerned about the future of their business.
Consequently, the Oakville Chamber has been actively working with policy makers at all levels of government to provide economic relief measures for businesses during COVID-19.
To avoid a collapse of our economy, the federal government announced a wage subsidy program to help cover three-quarters of employees’ salaries for businesses that have seen their revenue drop by at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19. In addition, a $40,000 interest-free loan has been extended where $10,000 can be forgiven if certain conditions are met.
As one of the advocates for the significant increase to the initial 10 per cent federal wage subsidy announcement, the Oakville Chamber, and business organizations across the Country, applauded the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy that would cover 75 per cent of salaries for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
As details emerged in the days following the announcement, we heard from members across our community who had concerns with the way the program had been designed and feared that the program would not be enough to save their business and keep their workers employed.
To that end, the Oakville Chamber has spent the last few weeks engaging with our membership to better understand their concerns, challenges and most importantly seek feedback on what types of support they need from our Federal Government.
Business models differ from sector to sector. Some are reliant on foot traffic, some are essential but are operating at a reduced capacity. All of these variables mean that not all businesses will benefit from the measures introduced so far from the government.
Some smaller businesses don’t have the cash reserves to sustain them long term. So, time is of the essence. Understandably, they are hesitant to take on more loans as they can’t predict what’s in store for them for the next six months.
Furthermore, the criteria for businesses to access the 75 per cent wage subsidy remains an issue for some that do not qualify. These include businesses with small profit margins that are being hurt by a revenue decline of less than 30%, as well as service firms that are invoicing but do not know when or if these invoices will be paid.
Businesses need to see immediate execution of government programs to protect jobs and avoid delaying recovery. We urgently need to get these funds into the hands of employers. Every day that we delay these funds will lead to more businesses shutting down and more Canadians facing unemployment.
Together, with our network of Chamber’s across the country, the Oakville Chamber is calling on all levels of government to set aside planned tax increases, new regulations and unnecessary consultations that place a burden on businesses.
This is a situation without precedent for the global and Canadian economy. Our federal government has been responsive to our calls to action and must continue to do so as we navigate this unprecedented time together.