It is a very scary time for the economy in Belleville. We are certainly in a recession with the pandemic COVID-19, and it is going to be a very hard time for all businesses in the City and Region.
We will need to band together and work on complex measures to ease the burden for business, while ensuring that the health and well-being of our general populace is intact.
Through lock downs and measures like social distancing, countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have found their way out of the COVID-19 pandemic without explosive outbreaks like we have seen in Italy. That means we need to both take this seriously while keeping an eye on our economy, and that measures to stop the spread are themselves going to help ease the result on the economy.
We need to enact serious social measures now so that the pain can be minimized for later.
Some of these measures include:
- Encourage all employees to follow social distancing and to not travel. Make sure to wash hands regularly, and wear gloves where possible, and not touch eyes, mouth, and face. There should be no shaking of hands.
- Encouraging all employees who are sick to call Tele Health immediately to see if they have COVID-19 Toll-free: 1-866-797-0000
- If employees are sick, to make sure they take 14 days off, follow Doctor’s orders, and limit all exposure to others.
Our federal government has announced some relief for business. This includes:
- Increased funding for the Work-Sharing program to avoid layoffs while businesses recover https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing.html
- The Government of Canada will waive the one-week waiting period for people who are in quarantine or have been directed to self-isolate and are claiming for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html
- Loan holidays through the Business Development Bank of Canada
The provincial Government also offered some incentives today to workers who become sick or have to care for a loved one https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/job-protection-for-workers-during-the-covid-19-situation.html
Further incentives from the federal and provincial governments could include:
- Delaying deadlines for collections of HST and GST
- Delaying income tax returns
- Province delaying deadlines for taxes – MAT tax, and income taxes.
As Chair of the Economic and Destination Development Committee for Belleville, I will be listening to business owners in the next week to see what the City of Belleville can do to ease the burden that is real and coming to owners in Belleville.
Some early ideas could be
- Supporting and promoting local delivery services
- Promoting locally owned
- Promoting staycations
- Supporting pop-ups this summer and other entrepreneurial endeavors
- Speaking for and supporting local businesses to the federal and provincial governments
Stay safe out there!
Councillor Ryan Williams