Treaty 1 Territory, Métis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals are calling on the Pallister PCs to step up with targeted income and revenue supports to shelter businesses and organizations that are losing money because of the latest public health restrictions.
"By ordering businesses to close - or even to operate at 25%, the Pallister PCs are basically ordering people to go broke. There is no scenario where that is acceptable," said Lamont. "A year into the pandemic, there should be plenty of evidence for which businesses need help, and what kind of help they need. It needs to happen now to prevent a crisis, not after one has already happened."
The PCs should offer grants to help cover overhead costs and be willing to add to federal funds.
Despite their boasts of business assistance, the PCs left over $60-million in business assistance unspent, and have routinely promised assistance that businesses can't access.
The PC promised $46-million for summer jobs, but $27-million - 60% - stayed in the government's bank accounts. Over 95% of $10-million for Pandemic Staffing Support Benefit stayed in public coffers.
Last summer, Manitoba was a huge outlier in terms of businesses applying for insolvency, seeing a 500% increase. In many provinces, the percentage of businesses claiming insolvency actually dropped.
Over 80% of all pandemic assistance in Manitoba has been federal.
Dino Camiré, a gym owner in Winnipeg, says his business and industry has been hard hit, because of forced closures.
"So many of my peers are tired, stressed and can't go on much longer with our businesses only being allowed to open at 25 percent with very little financial support. It's coming up to 14 months now since anyone has made breakeven targets," said Camiré. "We haven't heard anything from Premier for weeks other than squeezing us tighter with arbitrary restrictions and continued inspections while freedom/anti mask rallies happen daily. The Province needs to prove they have our backs."
The PCs are making excuses for not providing businesses the help they need, arguing some owners would rather be open fully rather than take government assistance.
"It is irresponsible for the PCs to deny help to all businesses because some owners want to be fully open in a pandemic, which is not realistic or safe and will drive some businesses under," said Lamont. "In a pandemic, we have all had to sacrifice what we want. The focus has to be on what people actually need."