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It’s a farce because the Ford government isn’t actually listening to what the business owners, managers of local organizations, and community leaders are telling them regarding their needs. All are asking for financial support in order to survive. Yet Ford is only willing to offer tax deferrals and mixed messages about reopening.
It is tragic because these businesses are doing everything they can to make ends meet. We’re hearing testimonies of revenue needed to put food on the table. We’re hearing about the hopelessness people will face if they don’t get direct support. Yet, Tory MPPs continue to gloss over these business owners’ calls for financial support. Instead, they ask what they might offer in the way of “non-financial solutions.” This simply isn’t good enough.
The Ford government purports to be the most business-friendly government in decades, yet they keep asking the federal government to do their job when it comes to supporting businesses. We need more than tax deferrals, which simply delay heavy debts.
In March, the Ontario NDP introduced our party’s Save Main Street plan, which proposes targeted supports for small businesses. The plan would offer tenant-driven rent subsidies, a remote work set-up fund, and a utility payment freeze – supports that businesses need to survive and, hopefully one day soon, to thrive.
What will the legacy of COVID-19 be in Ontario? Without immediate action from the government, we’ll see shuttered storefronts and hollowed-out main streets. Businesses have done everything the government has asked of them, foregoing revenue to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians. We must invest in them and in their future. If not, business owners and their families will have nowhere to turn to help them stay afloat.
As a province, we have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of businesses. Every day in committee meetings, we hear business leaders’ pleas for help. Unfortunately, the Ford government has very selective hearing.
Businesses cannot bear 100 per cent of the burden. Doug Ford must stop forcing them to go it alone.
Ian Arthur, MPP for Kingston and the Islands
Catherine Fife, MPP for Waterloo