Virus response needs "every human and financial resource"

Business leaders are calling on governments to protect jobs as the coronavirus crisis escalates

Virus response needs "every human and financial resource"
Steve Randall

Four Canadian business groups are calling on Canada’s governments to protect jobs and postpone any non-essential new measures, to protect struggling businesses and workers.

The call from the Business Council of Canada, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, came over the weekend as the world continued to battle the COVID-19 crisis.

“Canadian businesses are ready and able to step up to overcome the challenge of COVID-19. We will work to ensure that Canadians have the food to feed their families, the fuel to heat our homes and to keep essential services moving, the equipment and facilities to treat the sick and the communications systems that unite us even as we are kept apart from one another,” the organizations said in a joint statement.

They added that fighting this outbreak requires “every human and financial resource” and called for more to be done to help businesses and workers at this unprecedented time.

Noting the efforts of other countries, the Canadian business groups want the federal and provincial governments to “backstop the economy” by providing support for wage payments.

In the UK, for example, the government has guaranteed to pay 80% of wages for workers who cannot work due to illness or business disruption. This is to encourage businesses to retain workers rather than lay them off.

Last week, more than half a million Canadian workers filed for employment insurance.

Delay tax changes
The business groups are also urging a delay for several planned changes that would further weaken business as they struggle with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We also ask governments at all levels to support our efforts by postponing any increases in taxes, non-essential new regulations, and unnecessary consultations that take us away from this mission. Businesses and governments need to be focused 100% on the current crisis, leaving other priorities aside until the crisis abates,” the joint statement says.