WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals say that despite the PCs plan to "reopen the economy," countless Manitoba Small Businesses will close and never reopen because the PCs won't provide help to cover costs during the crisis.
The PCs have announced a $4-million call centre that connects Manitobans with the Federal Government and a $6,000 loan program that can only be accessed by people who can get no federal help. The tax deferral measures all help big businesses much more than small.
Manitoba Liberals have called repeatedly for the government to step up with grants to small businesses to help them cover overhead and "hibernate".
"Under this plan, many Manitoba small businesses will still fail, for one reason and one reason only, because Pallister did less than any other Premiers in Canada to help small businesses," said Dougald Lamont, MLA for St. Boniface and Manitoba Liberal Leader. "We are going to see business insolvencies, personal insolvencies and empty shopfronts because the Premier and his party ignored the evidence, ignored pleas and chose business as usual in a crisis."
Manitoba Liberals say there are other key aspects in the plan that are missing:
Enhanced Small Business Assistance. To service and bounce back, small businesses need grants - not loans or deferrals - to cover all or some fixed overhead costs. This is essential for many rural small businesses. Self-employed Manitobans, including non-incorporated sole proprietors are also falling through the cracks.
Provincial Guidelines on Personal Care Homes. In many jurisdictions, the majority of deaths have occurred due to Covid-19 contagion in Personal Care Homes. Manitoba Liberals first called for a plan nearly two months ago, on March 2. The PCs need a plan to keep PCHs safe NOW.
Enhanced Guidelines and Protections for Food Processing - especially meat processing. There have been outbreaks of COVID-19 in large food processing plants, especially meat processing at Smithfield in South Dakota and Cargill in Alberta. It can be difficult to practice social distancing. Safety is essential for the plants, as well as for the areas they operate in, like Neepawa, Brandon, and St. Boniface.
Proper Screening of out-of-province Workers. We are concerned the province is contracting out of public work to private companies from Ontario and Alberta. In addition to economic concerns, it is essential that these out-of-province workers are screened and tested, since both provinces have had widespread community transmission of COVID-19.
Finally, to ensure a full recovery, Manitoba Liberals say it is essential that the PCs reject austerity and cuts.
"If we are going to talk about evidence for health, we would like to see evidence-based decision making when it comes to the economy, and that means investments - not cuts," said Lamont. "The Premier is calling for cuts that could leave deep and permanent scars on our province and our economy, when we should be doing everything we can to make sure that as many of Manitoba's businesses, jobs, and institutions make it through this crisis intact."