Yesterday, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature to address two critical issues which are facing small businesses in Manitoba. This was as a result of the many emails I have been receiving from small businesses. The text of the part of my speech addressing these issues - as recorded in Hansard is below.
Hon Jon Gerrard: MLA River Heights: I want to talk first about the businesses which support food producers and the general help for small businesses, because in the last few days I have received many emails from people in small businesses in Manitoba, many of whom who support food producers.
And I will present–provide an example of the message from one of these letters. The letter says: small businesses are in desperate need of government support. The physical distancing requirements to protect the public from COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on small businesses. While small businesses were quick to close to help save lives, the government has been slow to provide basic support to ensure they're able to reopen. I'm seeking your support to protect small businesses. Without your help, many will be unable to survive.
The single greatest challenge facing small business owners is rent. If rent protections are not put in place, thousands of businesses will be forced to close. The economic impact of choosing not to support small businesses will be disastrous for both our local and national economy. Any plan to reopen must include rent support. Without most–without it, most small businesses will be unable to do so successfully.The provinces have the jurisdiction and the ability to implement two key mechanisms of support: (1) to issue a moratorium on commercial evictions, and (2) to work with the federal government to make the Canada Revenue Agency support for small businesses and their rent mandatory for landlords. Currently, it is less than 20 per cent of landlords who are expected to participate in this support and the provinces need to step up to ensure the small businesses, the heart and soul of our community, are protected. There is little time to act. I call on the government before it is too late.