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e-2737 (Economy and finance)

E-petition
Initiated by Jeffery Moreau from Eagle River, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • The survival of the tourism sector is important to the economic recovery of Canada;
  • Canada’s tourism businesses have suffered a major economic hit due to COVID-19 shutdowns;
  • Many tourism businesses in Canada are reliant on visitors from outside the country, and may not able to operate until the border re-opens;
  • Current federal support programs for businesses are not optimized for seasonal industries;
  • Without relief, many tourism operators are at risk of losing their businesses;
  • The local economy in many regions, particularly Northern Ontario, is heavily reliant on tourism businesses and the visitors they attract; and
  • Permanent closure of tourism businesses would have devastating long-term impacts on the economy as a whole.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to provide direct financial relief to tourism operators.

Response by the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): THE HON. MÉLANIE JOLY, P.C., M.P.

The Government of Canada thanks the petitioners for sharing their views on the importance of providing direct financial relief to tourism operators who are dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government of Canada recognizes the tremendous importance of tourism to the Canadian economy, and its particular importance to the economy of Northern Ontario. Approximately 750,000 workers and 2 per cent of Canada’s GDP are attributed to tourism. Small and medium sized firms dominate the tourism sector and it employs a higher proportion of youth, women and Indigenous people compared to their share of the workforce. Domestic and international tourism is also a key economic generator and an important source of jobs in many rural and northern regions of the country.

We also understand the COVID-19 pandemic has created many hardships for businesses, and that tourism operations across Canada, and outfitters in Northern Ontario whose livelihoods depend almost completely on the US market, have been particularly hard hit. The government has heard first-hand from many tourism operators and sector associations regarding the serious economic consequences of the pandemic on tourism businesses. This feedback, including the petition you have submitted, is vital to helping inform the Government of Canada’s efforts in developing and tailoring policies and programs in support of Canadian businesses that have been impacted.

Recognizing that the pandemic restrictions have taken a toll on Canada’s tourism industry—on jobs, businesses and communities— the government has provided support to businesses through a variety of new and evolving programs through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. These programs have been designed with diverse, hard hit sectors like tourism and hospitality in mind.

To date, approximately $9.7 billion is estimated to have flowed to businesses in these sectors through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Business Account and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance. The government has also implemented the Canada Recovery Benefit and made changes to the Employment Insurance program to better protect workers during this time.

To help support those businesses unable to access these and other federal pandemic support programs, the government announced the $962-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) on April 17, providing significant funding through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies, including FedNor in Northern Ontario. The government increased funding on October 2, bringing total support to more than $1.5 billion.

  • $568 million for Western Economic Development
  • $34 million for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
  • $72 million for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor)
  • $436 million for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • $281 million for Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions
  • $170 million for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

As of Fall 2020, this program has protected over 102,000 jobs and supported over 14,700 businesses, including over 8,500 clients in rural areas and 5,100 women-owned businesses. The RRRF has also provided $202 million in support to 2,830 tourism-related businesses.

Most recently, as part of its Fall Economic Statement, the Government of Canada has proposed a new top-up of up to $500 million, on a cash basis, to Regional Development Agencies and the Community Futures Network of Canada, bringing total funding to over $2 billion for the RRRF. Recognizing the importance of this Fund in supporting local tourism businesses, the government has earmarked a minimum of 25 per cent of its resources to support local tourism businesses, providing more than $500 million in program support through June 2021.

Further, to specifically help highly-affected sectors like tourism and hospitality that have struggled to access sufficient financing during this crisis, the government is currently working with financial institutions to offer loans on more generous terms by creating a new program for highly affected businesses. This new program for the hardest hit businesses will offer 100 percent government-guaranteed financing for heavily impacted businesses, and provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million over extended terms, up to 10 years. The government will provide details about the new program for highly affected businesses soon.

While the various initiatives and funding now being offered by the Government of Canada have played a vital role in keeping businesses afloat during this period of uncertainty, we understand the journey ahead will continue to be difficult and of unknown duration, and that it will require additional creative solutions to support tourism businesses in particular. The government will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to identify the best ways to support the longer term rebound and recovery of this important sector.

Open for signature
August 13, 2020, at 5:02 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
November 11, 2020, at 5:02 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Eric Melillo (Kenora)
December 9, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00389)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Eric Melillo
Kenora
Conservative Caucus
Ontario
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