“We are headed towards an iceberg”: CHHB renews its sector-specific aid as CEWS, CERS wind down

“We are headed towards an iceberg”: CHHB renews call for sector-specific aid as CEWS, CERS wind down

TORONTO – The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses (CHHB), which includes ACTA and CATO as partners, today renewed its urgent call to the federal government to protect travel and tourism businesses and their employees in Canada as CEWS and CERS begin to wind down.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) programs have been critical for the survival of travel and tourism businesses over the course of the pandemic.

As of July 4 and continuing through September, CEWS and CERS are winding down, with an eye to the beginning of Canada’s economic recovery in the fall.

But as Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) points out, travel and tourism were the first hit, the hardest hit and will be the last to recover from the pandemic.

If financial assistance winds down too quickly, the industry “will be decimated and may never recover,” Potter said today.

“We are asking for a few more months,” said Potter during the CHHB’s briefing. “We are asking for help to survive.”

“We are headed towards an iceberg”: CHHB renews call for sector-specific aid as CEWS, CERS wind downPotter adds that while the Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) is being boasted by the government as the program to replace the CEWS, it is inadequate for businesses that are not recovering. 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,” said Potter.

TRAVEL & TOURISM INDUSTRIES STILL STRUGGLING DESPITE EASED RESTRICTIONS

Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents returning to Canada no longer have to quarantine for two weeks. The new eased restrictions also eliminate the 3-day hotel quarantine for those arriving by air.

However Canada’s tourism industry, already in dire straits after more than 15 months of travel restrictions, can’t kickstart summer 2021 operations without eased restrictions for inbound foreign national travellers too.

And while the eased quarantine rules do benefit outbound travel, there’s still the advisory against all non-essential travel. With that advisory still in place, retail travel agents are selling future travel but still face financial hardship with no immediate revenue coming in.

“Now is not the time for the government to turn off the taps of support,” said Potter.

A recent CHHB survey indicated that 60% of CHHB members, representing upwards of 1.2 million employees, predict they will fail before the end of 2021 if CEWS and CERS are not extended.

“Our recovery will not be like a light switch,” said Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada.

She added: “We are headed towards an iceberg and this problem will not fix itself.”

More details are at the CHHB’s website.