August 1, 2020
Pandemic-proofing small business
An interview with Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade
Employers in the landscape and horticulture profession are experiencing labour shortages. What is the federal government doing to help employers find the talent they need?
Canadians should be confident that their jobs are safe as we continue to fight Covid-19 — and employers who have seen their revenue decrease should know the government will support them as they attract new employees. That’s why we introduced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy — to support businesses the hardest hit and protect Canadian jobs. The subsidy will cover 75 per cent of an employee’s wages, up to $847 per week, and is retroactive to March 15, 2020. This significant support will help eligible employers keep their staff on payroll, rehire those previously laid off, and consider hiring new employees.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling on the federal government to expand eligibility to CEBA. Is the government considering expanding the eligibility as
the crisis extends into its fourth month?
We know that many small businesses need help paying their rent, paying suppliers, and topping up their employees’ wages. That is why we launched the Canada Emergency Business Account, offering interest-free loans of up to $40,000 — with up to $10,000 forgivable if repaid by December 2022.
Businesses of all sizes in all sectors with payroll between $20,000 and $1.5 million can apply. If businesses don’t have that minimum payroll threshold, they can still apply if they have non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million, a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and a business operating account at their local bank or credit union. Non-deferrable expenses include costs such as rent, utilities, equipment leases, and insurance.
We know that some business owners operate with a personal bank account or have yet to file a tax return — and we are working hard on a solution to help them.
This program has been expanded and evolved because of what business owners and entrepreneurs across Canada have told us — and we will continue to listen to them to ensure they are supported during this challenging time.
Some critics argue the CERB and the CESB provides incentive for some Canadians not to work, and therefore makes it more difficult for employers to recruit talent. How would you respond to those critics?
The situation we find ourselves in because of the Covid-19 global pandemic is extraordinary, and requires an extraordinary response. Our emergency support measures, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Emergency Student Benefit, are designed to provide people with the urgent support they need to keep food on the table and keep up with their bills. However, we know that Canadians want to get back to work once it’s safe to do so; they want to contribute to their communities, and they want stability for them and their families.
We’ve also brought in programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which is helping employers keep their staff on payroll, rehire those previously laid off, and consider hiring new employees. And the new Canada Student Service Grant and expanded Canada Summer Jobs programs are helping students find jobs, gain valuable work experience, and serve their communities.
We will continue to help people through this unprecedented crisis, while ensuring that workers feel safe and supported as people get back to work, and we begin to restart our economy.
Will the government extend the CEWS beyond the current June 6 limit for as long as various levels of emergency provisions are in place?
To help businesses rehire their employees and ensure Canadians can start getting back to work, we are extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to August 29, 2020 (editor’s note: CEWS has been extended until December 2020). We’ve also consulted with businesses of all sizes, in every sector — as well as labour representatives, non-for-profits, and charities — to discuss how to adapt this program and save as many Canadian jobs as our economy begins to safely restart.