REGINA — With Alberta announcing new restrictions yesterday, the same day that Manitoba announced that the majority of its restrictions would be extended into January, New Democrats’ Critic for Economy and Jobs Aleana Young called on the provincial government to level with businesses and workers and provide real support for those who are struggling.
“The Sask. Party government’s mixed messages have been muddled and ineffective for workers and for businesses – especially the small businesses that are the heartbeat of our province,” said Young. “Scott Moe has offered us the worst of both worlds: the government has told businesses to stay open while their customers are urged to stay home.”
Young noted that the Sask. Party’s Small Business Emergency Payment Program relaunch repeats the same mistakes that blunted its effectiveness when it was first introduced in the spring. It still requires small businesses to be shut down or “substantially curtailed” by public health orders to receive support, and offers no support for those businesses not subject to public health orders but still facing sharply reduced revenues due to public health advice provided to the public.
Young summarized the Official Opposition’s calls for targeted measures to support businesses and working people:
- Fix the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment Program and make it accessible to all small businesses that have seen a dramatic decrease in revenues;
- Provide gap supports, similar to what is offered in Manitoba, for businesses that are not eligible for federal supports
- Dedicate funds from the $260 million contingency fund and other applicable sources to help businesses keep their employees on the payroll and to provide emergency supports for workers who still find themselves temporarily out of work.
“If we had brought in a circuit breaker when it was called for by doctors, nurses and the Official Opposition, restrictions could be being eased by now,” said Young. “Instead, we now have the second-highest per-capita caseload in the country. Businesses and workers need to have certainty that they will be supported, whatever happens in the coming weeks and months.”
Young also reiterated the NDP’s call for immediate action from the province to support the roughly 500 workers at Evraz in Regina who have lost their jobs right before Christmas. “This is a massive loss of good-paying jobs in an industry that is a pillar of our province,” said Young. “Businesses and workers all need support. The government’s ‘Rapid Response Team’ is not enough – these workers need real support, and they need it now.”