Local business needs ‘immediate injection of cash’: MP

Local MP Michael Barrett (bottom, right) speaks during a video town hall on Friday, April 24, 2020 hosting by the local chambers of commerce. Also shown are Brockville Tourism's Rebecca Bredin (top, left), Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pam Robertson (top, right) and 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce General Manager Amy Kirkland. (Zoom via Newswatch Group)

BROCKVILLE – While the Liberal federal government is providing loans and deferrals, Conservative MP Michael Barrett understands that businesses are facing “tremendous pressures” and need cash to float their operations now.

“You don’t need money in May or in June. You need money in March. The clock is already running and you’re working on borrowed time in a lot of ways,” Barrett said during a one hour online town hall for chamber members Friday afternoon, hosted by the 1000 Islands, Gananoque and Brockville Chambers of Commerce.

Barrett says his party has been advocating for “an immediate injection of cash” of a 100 per cent in-and-out for the GST/HST remittance for local business would be best so businesses have cash in their hands faster to keep operations afloat.

He says local business are not really looking to take on more debt, like the Canada Emergency Business Account. The CEBA has a 25 per cent forgivable portion of the $40,000 loan, meaning employers could be taking on $30,000 in debt.

The MP was asked about a number of topics including the government’s $9 billion fund for students while businesses that are still operating and trying to hire students.

Barrett believes that the legislation, which still has to be approved, will require students to show “they they are not able to find work” in order to receive the $1,250 a month.

Answering a question about all the emergency programs and their potential wind down post-pandemic, Barrett says there won’t be a sudden cut off but businesses will be approved month-to-month.

Answering on a question about the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA) and why banks haven’t reduced interest rates in the agreement, where the landlord and tenant each pick up 25 per cent of the rent while the government loan overs 50 per cent, Barrett says the banks have been protected in his program.

“We, Canadians, have backstopped all of the risk for banks. Like, all of it. With respect to insuring loans or guaranteeing loans, the same is true for CMHC debt. Canadians have protected the bank’s interest very well,” he said.

“It’s a really good question. It’s one we’re going to keep asking,” Barrett said. “We don’t want anybody to work for free but some people are not getting paid anything. There needs to be some level of equity applied in this situation because we do all need to come out of this on the other side.”