The impacts of COVID-19 are being felt in every corner of our province and touching every sector of the economy. People across B.C. stepped up and made sacrifices to help stop the spread of the virus and we owe everyone a debt of gratitude for those continued efforts. Here in British Columbia, Dr. Bonnie Henry and her team have done an excellent job guiding us through the pandemic and helping to save lives, but now government needs to step up to help save livelihoods as well.
People have been waiting patiently for a detailed recovery plan that would help kickstart our suffering local economies. Keeping British Columbians safe needs to remain top priority but a clear plan from government on economic recovery is just as important. We’re now in a deep recession with hundreds of thousands of people out of work and a countless number of small businesses on the brink of closing for good. British Columbians need a government that is going to act now.
The BC Liberals have been listening to people in every corner of the province and putting forward common-sense ideas to government. Over the past six weeks we have written 12 letters to the Premier, offering over 40 suggestions and ideas to get British Columbians and the economy back on track.
One of the keys to getting back on track is safely reopening businesses, shops and restaurants and getting people working again. Ninety-eight per cent of businesses in B.C. are small businesses that employ over one million British Columbians. I hear daily from small business owners across B.C. who are struggling to pay rent, are forced to lay off long-term employees, and manage expenses with shrinking savings. Many are facing the tragic reality of closing permanently this summer, which is why the NDP can’t delay support for them any longer. Our province is at risk of losing thousands of small businesses that make up the heart of our communities and the strength of our local economies.
When it comes to kick-starting our economy and protecting small business, what we’re asking for is simple. Temporary tax breaks on PST and the Employer Health Tax, help with buying PPE, a sustainable commercial rent relief plan, and the creation of a small business hardship grant.
All these measures are designed to help people get back on their feet, get back to work and adjust to living in our new normal. Government needs to be focused on getting businesses safely functioning again and rebuilding employment. This will not be easy, but I believe we have the people and the ideas to get it done. We can do better.
Government needs to be focused on getting businesses safely functioning again and rebuilding employment. Now is the time for elected leaders at all levels to put aside ideology and act together to support both people and our local businesses. At stake is the future prosperity of British Columbia. This will not be easy, but I believe we have the people and the ideas to get it done. We can do better.