Small Business & Tourism Operators Need a Lifeline Now
The small business community on PEI needs a lifeline immediately. There are many sectors faced with challenges at this time and I certainly acknowledge those, but let us focus on small businesses for a moment.
Tourism and its eight sectors have become our second largest industry on PEI - that didn’t happen overnight. It is imperative we recognize the 7700 workers (many seasonal and students) that provide service to over 1.6 million visitors and injects over 450 million into our economy.
We require all levels of Government to prop up our small businesses that provide this employment and service. We have created a world class destination with some of the best cultural and food experiences anywhere and we can’t let COVID-19 consume this success.
The reason for this success is the hard work, innovation and dedication of thousands of Island entrepreneurs. And right now, they are going to need help – and a new vision – to preserve and improve the sector for years to come.
I believe the first step should be sector-wide initiative, that provides equal assistance to everyone involved.
Provide interest free loans to cover a portion of operational costs through COVID-19;
Increase deferred loans beyond the three months announced;
Extend duration of wage subsidy programs;
Waive inspections fees and levies 2020-21;
Exempt property tax for 2020;
Eliminate or provide HST (PEI portion) for three months;
Reduce or exempt the small business corporation tax.
Government could also immediately:
Activate a “Tourism Establishment Grant” for all sectors of this industry, including those businesses that are pending seasonal operations and those that rely heavily on the tourism industry;
Establish and share an “Exit Strategy” for COVID-19;
Develop an immediate inter-provincial marketing campaign in preparation of eased COVID-19 restrictions.
These are a few actions that could ease the pain of this very important issue.