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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

MP Alex Ruff Tells Minister Small Business Needs More Help

Grey Bruce | by Claire McCormack  

Businesses not paying $50k worth of wages don't have access to the Canada Emergency Bank Account.

Image from CPAC Broadcast  

Bruce-Grey Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff says small businesses need more help if they're going to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ruff was one of the MPs in Saturday's reconvening of Parliament to pass emergency legislation to free up government money, "The debate really was about identifying where potential future shortfalls are and what additional measures need to be taken by the government," says Ruff.

"Of all of the issues that I brought up in the House, the one that's impacting so many small or micro-businesses and sole proprietors is that $50,000 ceiling in order to qualify for the Canada Emergency Bank Account."

The government currently requires a business to have had a payroll of between $50,000 to $1 million to qualify for the Canada Emergency Bank Account.

Ruff says he spoke to Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng about it in the House Of Commons Saturday and stressed the importance of the issue.

"The government needs to take action sooner than later in order to figure this out because there's just too many businesses, especially in our riding but right across the country that need additional support measures or they're not going to be able to keep their doors open. Statistics or modelling show anywhere from ten to 30 some per cent not reopening," says Ruff.   

He says, there wasn't an expectation immediate changes would be made Saturday, "It wasn't going to impact the actual vote and the passing of the legislation that was in front of us that day." He adds, "All the parties recognize the urgency to get this out the door."

He explains, "The real value is to identify in that public forum, the additional shortfalls and really, areas or sectors that need support that aren't getting it," says Ruff.

He notes, the government faces the challenges of making sure the right businesses get the right financial aid for legitimate reasons.

Minister Ng responded to Ruff's questioning by agreeing upon the importance of small business, saying the government has put supports out for small businesses but will continue to listen to them, and "Work hard to support them." Ng pointed to the deferral of HST payments and customs duties payments.  

At his daily address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this morning, "We're working to enhance the Canada Emergency Business Account." Trudeau said he'd have more information 'soon.'

Meanwhile, in the same session, Ruff also asked for some form of limited access to Service Canada offices in rural communities. He highlighted the importance of access to internet in rural areas especially at a time when people need internet to stay informed about programs and benefits and also to apply for them.

Ruff also asked Finance Minister Bill Morneau about access for farmers to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, saying they only qualify at certain times. "The agriculture sector isn't really ideally suited to qualify for any of these benefits," says Ruff who notes, in his view the government hasn't created any specific aid program for farmers during COVID-19.

Morneau pointed to the Farm Credit Program which Ruff says was an election promise from last fall, "It has nothing to really do with COVID-19, they had already promised that."

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