Like many New Brunswickers, Liberal MLAS Roger Melanson and Andrew Harvey recognize the devastating toll this health crisis has taken on businesses and the economy and the need for our province to soon shift its focus to economic recovery.
“We know that too many businesses and workers have suffered and unfortunately, there have been businesses lost as a result of the measures that had to be taken to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the virus”, said Melanson. “I believe New Brunswickers want all parties to work together on tackling the challenge of economic recovery and we are prepared to do so.”
The Liberal MLAS are bringing forward a suggestion for the establishment of a non-partisan Economic Advisory Team that made up of business and industry leaders, municipalities, our universities, Chambers of Commerce business support organizations, and other key stakeholders to work with government and map out a blueprint for economic recovery that includes a focussed approach on business support, economic stimulus and growth.
“This is not a time for politics. This is a time for everyone to come together in support of a common cause – making sure our economy can continue to thrive” said Harvey.
They both believe there is a need for immediate action to provide assistance to local businesses to help them survive the crisis. “We recognize that governments have brought forward some business support programs, but there are still many gaps that need to be addressed by the provincial government”, said Harvey.
According to Melanson, many businesses face challenges related to cash flow and debt load. “Business groups are telling us this. We need additional programs that respond to this and we will need sector specific support initiatives, he said”.
Melanson is concerned that sectors like the restaurant sector, the tourism industry and others have suffered and need immediate financial relief. “We have proposed additional business support programs based on what they have been hearing from business owners. I think we should listen to those who are struggling on how to best support business and economic recovery. That’s why we talked about the need to defer property tax payments and the need for a loan program similar to the federal program that that provides forgiveness of up to 25% of the loan”.
Harvey believes that New Brunswick needs a plan to buy local and support existing businesses. He also thinks that the province needs to look at key infrastructure investments that create jobs and stimulate economic growth. “We must encourage the three levels of government to invest in joint infrastructure programs. We are hopeful the federal government will announce additional cost- shared infrastructure programs”.
They have suggested that an Advisory Team could provide guidance to develop initiatives for the short term (1-6 months), medium term (7-12 months) and long term (12+ months). These initiatives should focus on investments and support programs for the public, private, community (not-for-profit) and municipal sectors.