Fredericton (October 16, 2020) – The Liberal Opposition is calling on the Higgs government to support business sectors being negatively impacted by Covid-19.
“The top priority during a pandemic must obviously be keeping New Brunswickers safe and we fully support the guidelines put in place by Public Health,” said small business critic Gilles LePage. “But when a business is required to close for an indetermined amount of time, the financial consequences can be devastating. Government needs to provide the necessary support to keep these businesses afloat.”
Under current Public Health guidelines, when a healthcare zone changes alert levels due to an outbreak certain sectors are required to close until the outbreak is contained and there is no longer a heightened public health risk. With two zones currently in the Orange level, some local businesses like hair and beauty salons have closed and are facing serious financial hardships.
“Government needs to look at what sectors are being disproportionately affected by the mandated closures and provide temporary targeted financial support to help these businesses survive the outbreaks,” said LePage. “There are various ways Premier Higgs can help these businesses while they remain closed to protect public health, including reducing or eliminating some government fees, and providing direct financial aid for fixed costs such as salaries and rent or mortgages.”
LePage also suggests investing into infrastructure that could help all businesses during this time. “A lot of business is being done online now, investing immediately into high speed internet access across the province will make a big long-term difference for our business sector, for remote workers, and for our students.”
While the Federal government has provided various forms of support since the beginning of the pandemic, New Brunswick’s provincial government has provided the least financial support out of all the Canadian provinces to minimize the direct impact on businesses.
“Until now, the Higgs government has basically left New Brunswick businesses to deal with the financial consequences of this pandemic by themselves,” said Liberal Finance critic Rob McKee. “We know it’s cheaper to support an existing business than a new one, and we know that Covid-19 might be around for a long time so government must intervene whenever these outbreaks and mandated closures occur to ensure our businesses are there to help us build our post-Covid economy.”