While many businesses in Vancouver and across Canada closed in the early months of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many others continue to struggle financially.
Now, the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses says the findings of a Canada-wide survey show that the firm majority of hardest-hit businesses--60 per cent of them--will not survive if the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), as well as the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), are not extended past the June 5 deadline to the end of the year.
The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses is an industry-driven group of over 100 stakeholders representing a variety of sectors including tourism, travel, arts and culture, events and festivals, accommodation and hospitality.
Based on its survey results, the Coalition is formally appealing to the Federal Government to provide certainty and announce an extension of the CEWS and CERS supports to the end of the year for the hardest-hit sectors in the April budget.
“Our businesses were the first hit by the pandemic, the hardest hit by closures, and will be the last to recover. With extended support, we can thrive and survive. Without it, Canada’s tourism, culture and hospitality industries will be devastated for a generation,” announced Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
Extension of the CEWS and the CERS program would be a "lifeline"
Prior to the pandemic, businesses that comprised the Coalition employed over 2 million Canadians, explains a release. Employees of these businesses are "predominantly women, young people, Indigenous and new Canadians"-- and these groups have been particularly impacted by the pandemic.
Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada, says that extending the CEWS and the CERS program would be a "lifeline" for businesses impacted by the ban on mass gatherings.
Similarly, Martin Roy, Executive Director of Festivals and Major Events, added that many festival and event organizes are nearing the point where they need to decide if they need to cancel planned activities. "Chances are, they are going to once again miss out on the opportunity to generate their revenues for the year. Other sectors of the economy may begin to recover as restrictions ease, but the events sector will not be in a position to do so and will require continued government support until a return to normal occurs."
And while Potter acknowledges that the summer will likely see an easing of restrictions, decisions to "cancel conventions this fall have already been made."
The Coalition also stressed that efforts to safely stimulate domestic tourism, lower interprovincial travel barriers and reopen international borders are critically important. But such measures must be accompanied by critical support programs to ensure that highly affected sectors can bridge to the other side.