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Not enough or a positive step? Mixed reaction from business community to federal virus relief package

Last Updated Mar 18, 2020 at 10:53 am PST

File photo: Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Cormac Mac Sweeney, 1310 NEWS)

Some business leaders aren't completely impressed with the federal government's coronavirus relief package

Others largely view the measures as positive

The federal government announced $82B in total, broken down into $27B in direct supports and $55B in tax deferrals

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The business community has mixed views on the COVID-19 relief package outlined by the federal government.

Some feel Ottawa could have done more — while some largely view the measures as positive.

In the view of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the wage subsidy — while a good idea — needs to be much higher than the 10 per cent on offer.

“I think there are some good things in the federal relief package,” says Muriel Protzer, CFIB’s senior policy analyst for B.C. “But perhaps it doesn’t quite go far enough.”

The CFIB wants a subsidy closer to the range of 75 per cent, citing more generous supports offered by some European countries.

Meanwhile Greater Vancouver Board of Trade chief executive Bridgitte Anderson is talking in more positive terms about this package.

“This is a very fluid situation and I’m very pleased to see that the government is also prepared to do more if the situation continues to evolve,” says Anderson. “This is the role and the opportunity for government to act as a bridge in these most uncertain times.”

Anderson says she’s been speaking with her members as well as representatives from all three levels of government, and plans to have further conversations to maintain a sense of what businesses are dealing with, and what they’d like to see in terms of additional help from government if required.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $27-billion in direct supports for businesses and workers in Canada who have been impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. In addition, Trudeau also announced $55-billion in tax deferrals.

The $82-billion relief package equals three per cent of Canada’s GDP, Trudeau noted.

The direct supports include an emergency support benefit for people who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance, a boost to the Canada Child Benefit, and a supplement for the GST tax credit for low income Canadians. Measures also include a wage subsidy for small-business owners to help keep staff on the payroll during the slowdown caused by the novel coronavirus.