Calgary Chamber urging Ottawa to extend COVID-19 benefits past Saturday
The Calgary Chamber of Commerce is urging the federal government to continue supporting hard hit businesses during the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Five pandemic support programs end on Saturday, including three programs that offer assistance to individuals and two that offer support for businesses.
They include: Canada recovery benefit (CRB), Canada recovery sickness benefit (CRSB), Canada recovery caregiver benefit (CRCB), Canada emergency rent subsidy (CERS) and the Canada emergency wage subsidy (CEWS).
The programs can be extended into November without introducing new legislation.
“We’re still in this fourth wave, we still can’t operate at capacity with certainty. Until that is possible we do need to continue supporting our smaller businesses across the country, not just Alberta,” said Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO, Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
Yedlin said in a survey of Calgary’s business community conducted earlier this year, 70 per cent of businesses indicated they received at least one form of government support, primarily federal support.
She said the chamber wrote a letter to the federal finance minister asking for an extension to support programs.
“We urged them to have the supports in place because businesses still require further assistance until the worst of the pandemic is behind us and that we have the vaccination standards that enable them to open up at capacity and with certainty.”
Yedlin said the chamber did not set a timeline in terms of how long the programs should be in place but Ottawa should consider extending them at least to the end of the year or first quarter of next year.
A new study from the Angus Reid Institute asks people what they think should happen to the benefits program.
“There’s definitely a trend that we’re seeing now that indicates Canadians are of a view that we should be looking towards tapering down and turning off the pandemic related emergency benefits,” said Shachi Kurl, president, Angus Reid Institute.
The study found two-in-five Canadians (41 per cent) say now is the time for the programs to end. That includes almost three-in-10 who received benefits themselves.
Another 16 per cent say the end of the year makes more sense to cancel benefits.
The study finds two-thirds of Canadians say the programs should not extend past June 2022, that would be two years after the pandemic began.
“The federal government has to make a decision very soon over how long they’re going to be extending benefits and which benefits will be extended,” said Kurl.