NDP seeking more support from gov’t for businesses and employees struggling during COVID-19

The Saskatchewan NDP says they want to see “real support” for Saskatchewan’s businesses and employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aleana Young, who serves as the economy and jobs critic for the official opposition, said the government is still giving mixed messages to the small business community ahead of the government’s December 17 deadline for when the province’s restrictions are up for review.

Young, who is a small business owner herself, said the Saskatchewan Party government has presented “the worst of both worlds” where businesses are told to stay open while customers are urged to stay home.

“I think it’s safe to say no one is happy with the plan that is currently in place,” she stated. “We’ve been in a pandemic for 10 months now, and even if you are a business that qualified for both of the government’s programs which would be $10,000 in total, it’s still only $4 a day.”

Young brought up how the Small Business Emergency Payment Program relaunch “repeats the same mistakes that blunted its effectiveness when it was first introduced in the spring.” She also noted how it does not offer enough help for businesses not subject to public health orders yet are facing reduced revenues due to restrictions given to the public.

Young admitted it has created uncertainty and anxiety for businesses since the holiday season is a critical time for the local economy.

“For small business owners, they may not know if they have to lay off staff right before Christmas, or restaurants and bars might end up trashing a bunch of inventory because from one day to the next they might not be able to sell it.”

The NDP has presented targeted measures they believe will support businesses and working people:
• Fix the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment Program and make it accessible to all small businesses that have seen a dramatic decrease in revenues;
• Provide gap supports, similar to what is offered in Manitoba, for businesses that are not eligible for federal supports
• Dedicate funds from the $260 million contingency fund and other applicable sources to help businesses keep their employees on the payroll and to provide emergency supports for workers who still find themselves temporarily out of work.

In response, Premier Scott Moe said this is a challenging time, however he believes the government has been there for businesses in the way of supports and proper regulations during the pandemic which have allowed businesses to operate safely during COVID-19.

Moe said the NDP has a different idea in mind.

“I would like to thank [businesses] for the efforts they have made and how they have changed their business environment to keep their staff and customers safe,” suggested Moe.

“This is very different than what the opposition has suggested, which is not to tell the customers to stay home, but to tell everyone to stay home including workers in each of those small businesses across the province.”

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