TREATY 1 TERRITORY, WINNIPEG, MB - Manitoba will only be able to bring Covid-19 cases under control with economic supports that rewards businesses and people for staying safe by paying them to stay home or stay closed.
"If you ignore Pallister's public health orders, you will be fined. If you follow them, you will go broke," said Lamont. "To drive cases down, we need to reward people for doing the right thing: replace revenue for businesses that have to close and paying people who can't work."
The rules surrounding business closures haven't worked. While individual businesses and stores are forced to close, major chains carrying the same products remain open. CFIB has said that 53% of Winnipeg businesses are losing money every day they are open.
Lamont said that's a recipe for economic disaster for local business. If the Code Red is serious, people shouldn't be out shopping for non-essential items at Big Box stores either.
Manitoba Liberals say for a Code Red shutdown to work, the province needs to introduce three measures immediately:
Emergency revenue and income replacement programs for small businesses and organizations forced to close in Code Red. Covering revenue would allow the businesses to pay overhead and employees for the duration of the shutdown.
An immediate review of small business closures - and restrictions on the sales of non-essential items by big box retailers.
Immediate income supports for people who can't work, especially for people with disabilities and people under the age of 65 who have not benefited from seniors benefits to date.
Lamont rejected the idea that Canada or Manitoba cannot afford to keep local businesses or people afloat in the second wave. The PCs have made misleading claims both about Manitoba's debt as well as their supports for business - claiming both are much higher than they really are.
"Of course there are limits to what government can do, but we are nowhere near that limit," said Lamont. "We are facing a small business apocalypse in Manitoba because Pallister is going out of his way to bankrupt small businesses. This is destructive - every business we can help make it through this crisis is a business that can start up again when this is over."