Hard Vs. Hardest Hit Industries… That is the Question

2 minute read

No one would ever suggest that the government has not spent an exorbitant amount of money over the last nine months to help individuals and businesses weather the storm, yet particular industries remain in dire need. Aside from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which has helped many businesses maintain payroll, the remainder of COVID related programming for businesses has fallen short. That includes the last resort Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) program, which has not received much uptake.

While the government remains committed to managing the pandemic, there do seem to be slight shifts to economic recovery while trying to stand true to their key policy planks, such as climate change, clean technology, and job creation.  

This week’s announcement by Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan for the oil and gas sector is a perfect example. The Minister launched a program which was announced by Prime Minister Trudeau earlier this year that includes $750 Million for companies to reduce methane emissions.  Ideally, a win-win for government and industry. This week, there will be a cleantech funding announcement for the mining sector, another that has been hard hit by COVID-19.

As promised in the Government’s Speech from the Throne (SFT), further support for industries that have been the hardest hit “including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts” will be coming. The questions from industry are when, and in what form?  What is the benchmark?  As regions across the country face increased restrictions, the pressure for government response is mounting.

The aviation and aerospace sectors have seen extreme job losses and their revenues have plummeted. They need liquidity immediately in the form of a program that is suited to their specific needs. Again, for many large hard hit sectors the LEEFF is not the answer.

Industry remains committed to further discussions on what sector specific programs will look like and what type of environmental or social conditions will be attached. Don’t expect pressure from opposition to subside with a potential opposition day debate this week in the house on this very topic and the Canadian Heritage Committee beginning a study on the challenges and issues in the arts, culture, heritage and sport sectors. It would be a big disappointment to see the introduction of another one size fits all program.

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