The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses (CHHB) is calling on the federal government to protect travel and tourism businesses and their employees in Canada, as the crucial Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) programs wind down.
“The CEWS and CERS programs have been lifelines for these businesses that would otherwise have been forced to close,” the CHHB, which represents businesses in tourism, travel, arts and culture, events and festivals, motor coach, accommodations and hospitality, and Indigenous tourism experiences, on Tuesday (July 6).
“With these two key financial relief measures winding down as of July 4, many CHHB members are facing a near-certain financial crisis that will hit especially hard in the fall and winter of this year.”
In a statement, Beth Potter, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, noted how its members “need these programs to survive.”
“Our most recent survey from June shows that nearly 60 per cent of Canada’s hardest hit businesses will not survive if CEWS and CERS are not extended,” Potter said. “This, together with the increased uncertainty around the reopening of our international borders, the absence of major tourism events and conventions, and the slow return of business travel means we could see a potential collapse of our industry.”
The Coalition of the Hardest Hit Businesses, an industry-driven group, was established in September of 2020.
“Our industry was the first hit, the hardest hit, and will be the last to recover,” said Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada. “We know that recovery for our businesses will be slower than other sectors; it will not happen with the flick of a switch.”
“For our members who are directly tied to international and business travel, and major events and festivals that need much more lead time to plan, continued and tailored wage and fixed cost support will be needed for those that need it most to ensure we can get to the other side.”
Philip Mondor, president of Tourism HR Canada, said the the wind down of benefit programs will mean many businesses will have to let staff go “and millions of Canadians will be out of work.”
The Coalition underlined that Finance Canada has justified winding down the subsidies because they potentially provide a disincentive for businesses to reopen and rehire employees.
“While this could be true for businesses dependent on a domestic customer base, it is not true for businesses in the tourism, travel and accommodation sectors that are still under heavy restrictions and international visitors are prohibited from coming to Canada,” the coalition said.
Also: the Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) is “being boasted” by the government as the program to replace the CEWS, the coalition added.
“However, it is inadequate for businesses that are not recovering,” the CHHB said, as CRHP only provides funding to businesses to hire or rehire staff as business activity recovers.
“Without continued tailored support for businesses that have been hardest hit, many tourism businesses across Canada will face difficult decisions on reopening, and won’t be able to pay their bills to be around in 2022,” Potter said.
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