Opinion: When the federal election’s over, it’s time for Parliament to get serious about supporting small business

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Canada’s new government will have to shore up economic recovery as the fourth wave of the pandemic crashes across the country. For Members of Parliament, that means getting serious about helping small businesses.

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It was disheartening to see how quickly the entrepreneurs who bore the brunt of pandemic restrictions over the past 18 months became a consideration during the federal election campaign.

Sure, major political parties incorporate small-business policies into their respective platforms, but paving the way to prosperity requires much more than piecemeal promises. It requires vision – especially now.

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Economic headwinds are gathering due to the COVID-19 case count, inflationary pressures, supply chain disruptions, falling exports and labor shortages. Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings Inc. The U.S. recently lowered its GDP growth forecast for Canada from 6.6 percent for 2021 to 5 percent.

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Although all businesses feel the effects of a slowing economy, small businesses are particularly vulnerable as many are still grappling with the after-effects of an earlier economic shutdown.

Also on entrepreneurs’ minds is the pending end of federal wage and rent subsidy programs on October 23. For all those reasons, it’s easy to see why Canadians are hesitant to start new businesses at this time, even when vaccination rates are on the rise.

“In fact, more than half [54 per cent] Business owners would not recommend anyone else to start a business right now, and that should concern every Canadian, not just those who already own a business,” said Dan, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Kelly said in a statement last week. .

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In pictures: Canada’s 2021 federal election

It is imperative that our new government adopts integrated policies. Having a holistic approach means that our legislators should reach across partisan lines and support the best ideas.

As a starting point, wage and rent assistance programs for the hardest-hit sectors should be increased while pandemic restrictions remain in place. It is a compromise between a proposal proposed at the election by three parties. (The Liberals promised to retain such support only for the tourism sector, while the NDP and Green Party wanted to extend them to all small businesses.)

The Conservatives’ proposal for a one-month GST holiday was directed solely at retailers, but should be expanded to include small businesses in other sectors.

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And Block Quebecois made the right argument for reforming the federal government’s procurement strategy so that it gives an edge to small and medium-sized businesses.

There are also unfulfilled promises regarding credit card processing costs. For example, in last April’s budget, the government promised to lower credit card transaction fees so that small businesses pay rates similar to those paid by large businesses like Walmart. In addition, the government indicated that it is ready to regulate the processing fee, if necessary. Parliament should revive this idea without delay.

Gary Sands, senior vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, said, “You’re talking about billions of savings for small and medium-sized businesses — money that can be used for them to reinvest and recover. “

Strive to make Ottawa rely on Premier to cut red tape, promote free-trade deals, provide more support for businesses exploiting foreign markets, and remove interprovincial trade barriers once and for all needed.

That’s why our next small-business minister needs to be an inspired choice – someone with real influence along with the prime minister. The job should no longer be treated as a junior cabinet post.

Canada cannot achieve sustained economic recovery if small businesses are given less time. According to Ottawa’s own, they provided about 70 percent of private sector jobs before the pandemic.

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Let’s hope this federal election campaign is not a prelude to what small businesses can expect from our 44th Parliament.

It is time for MLAs to show real leadership and act with urgency. Revitalizing the entrepreneurial spirit is critical to Canada’s economic recovery.

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