The Surrey Board of Trade Initial COVID-19 Business Impact Survey Results show the following (note it is only Day 3 of the survey with over 100 respondents):
The impact felt by the business community includes:
Decreased business, decreased walk-through traffic, cancelled meetings and events, reduced sales, staff shortages, stress, decreased morale and productivity – employees are worried about their livelihoods and family, market unpredictability, shipment delays – Surrey has the greatest number of manufacturers in BC and relies on global trading hubs. The workforce is severely impacted compounded by other market volatility since the beginning of January 2020.
For the full report visit: https://businessinsurrey.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SURREY-BOARD-OF-TRADE-COVID-19-Report.pdf
CALL TO GOVERNMENT – HOW THEY CAN HELP BUSINESS:
Last week, the Federal Government has announced a $10 billion loan assistance program to help small and medium sized businesses and has lowered interest rates.
“However, businesses can’t afford to take on additional debt. The goal needs to be on keeping people employed, increasing business cash flow by reducing expenses and creative measures to stimulate sales,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
BUSINESS SUPPORT IDEAS:
1. The Federal government can meet with the CEO’s of the big five banks to postpone principal mortgage payments and waive interest payments on all property and automobile debt for the months April to June. All business loans up to a certain amount should be granted a principal holiday from April to June;
2. Canada’s largest commercial and residential landlords should be asked to waive rent payments for April through June for individuals and small to medium-sized businesses;
3. Short-term tax incentives and tax penalties should be brought in to further encourage smaller landlords to waive rent from April to June;
4. Credit card providers should waive all interest charges for small and medium sized businesses up to a certain amount for April to June;
5. CRA: delay filing obligations for business and shift resources to processing income taxes where refunds are due to taxpayers. All requested refunds should be processed with minimal review, postponing those reviews until after the crisis;
6. Provincial governments postpone collection of sales tax for all business with less than a certain amount of revenue, and charge no interest on delayed payments;
7. Provincial and municipal governments should move to reduce or eliminate household and small and medium sized business utilities costs under their control for the months of April to June;
8. Commercial property tax collection should be temporarily suspended. Federal and provincial governments should extend loans and grants to municipalities to support these efforts; and,
9. Where governments are extending relief loans or extending lines of credit, ensure criteria for these loans are reduced and funds are received quickly, with suspension of principal payments.
10. Retroactive decreases to the personal tax rate for 2019 (Bring the non-taxable amount from $12k to $24k, this would save people on average $2,400 Fed+BC) to immediately put money in people hands this month;
11. Temporary reduction/elimination of GST/PST on items purchased to encourage more purchasing;
12. Better coordinated efforts between airlines and government to repatriate Canadians when international travel is restricted or cancelled;
13. Implement measures to assist or extend travel insurance when Canadians are prevented from traveling due to local shutdowns/travel bans;
14. Impose large fines to those that do not self-isolate after arriving from abroad;
15. Suspend eviction notices until further notice;
16. Examine LNG, propane, gas and oil pricing and consider capping rates and reducing taxes on those and other commodities to reduce costs (look at transit and subsistence foods as well);
17. Immediately assess the current and near future needs of not for profits that support individuals and families and ensure they have the resources they will need to meet the demands;
18. Make the impediment of national ports, rails, roads and airlines a criminal offence – our goods and commodities must never be prevented from reaching markets (especially now and moving forward);
19. Make sure the elderly and disadvantaged have fair and equitable access to medical support and necessities of life;
20. All levels of government need to find ways to remove barriers and red tape that impede the ability to get business licenses, plans approved, applications, etc. Bureaucratic impediments, as SBOT has been saying for years, is one of the most significant impacts to economic development and innovation. Finding ways to improve this will help improve recovery time, along with streamlined access to grants and funding for R&D/Innovation/Start-Ups, etc.;
21. Invoke the Emergency Act to ensure the federal government has the authority to impose travel bans, evacuations, etc. and establish and regulate essential goods and services, build emergency shelters/hospitals and authorize emergency payments and obtain the support of military as needed; and,
22. Government should also consider ways to request services and products that it needs now and in the near future directly to suppliers in very low barrier means (price quote/bid process either suspended or minimal) – i.e., give out work to the private sector for needed products and services (not just those related to the crisis) but which are planned – to keep the economy moving and workers employed.