North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney. (Marissa Tiel/Campbell River Mirror)

North Island MP calls for a funding program fix for local businesses

MP Rachel Blaney calls on ministers to urgently fix programs that are leaving behind local businesses in remote and rural communities

North Island-Powell River MP, Rachel Blaney, has called upon the federal government to further review funding programs to better support local businesses from rural and remote communities.

In a letter addressed to Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, and Minister of Small Business, Mary Ng, Blaney highlighted issues that need to be tackled for more businesses to survive the pandemic.

Blaney highlighted these issues based on feedback from mayors, regional districts and chiefs of communities around her riding such as Alert Bay, Zeballos, Sayward and Port Hardy to name a few.

She said that local businesses that provide critical services in rural and remote communities and are managed by sole proprietors have been “left behind” to “struggle and go under.”

Blaney said that businesses in her constituency are not getting the financial “support they need” and implored ministers to ensure that “funding is dispersed with a renewed sense of urgency.”

“The frustration for me, is that these are the smallest, most vulnerable businesses that don’t have time and don’t have the financial capacity to hold off and wait.”

And since most of these businesses are running against time, Blaney said that she would like to see funding to flow “a lot more quickly and more effectively.”

Blaney’s letter states that issues with eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are ruling out many small businesses who rely mostly on contract labour, or whose proprietor is paid dividends rather than a wage.

Further on, business owners are encountering additional barriers to the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) imposed by banks that were not part of the government requirements.

Based on feedback and experiences of constituency members, Blaney said that the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) has a very high threshold of 70 per cent revenue loss with no support for those with slightly less losses and no clarity for landlords who own the property outright.

She also pointed out that the Regional Relief and Recovery Funds (RRRF) is yet to be rolled out in many communities.

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