30 Mar COVID-19 & The Business of Good
Ninety-five percent of businesses in Atlantic Canada are expecting to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak – that’s right, NINETY-FIVE. These results from the Atlantic Chamber’s recent survey clearly demonstrated that businesses were preparing for the worst as the COVID-19 virus made it’s way across the continent to our beautiful East Coast.
The beginning of this week marked a couple of major shifts in the battle against the virus; the prime minister has signalled that the military is ready to help deal with the outbreak, the province moved from a mode of education to one of enforcement of the provincial public orders (including aggressive fines for those not heeding the orders), and they identified the first case showing community spread of the virus that isn’t linked directly to travel. For many, it feels like Nova Scotia is on a precipice – our health and our economy hang in the balance.
Your Chamber mobilized early, providing a central resource page, using social media to more effectively communicate when businesses were making adjustments to protect health and safety, providing daily email updates to members on relevant programs and announcements, educating businesses on the impacts to expect and how to get help, and advocating for specific support from government to not only get us through this crisis, but to stimulate economic growth once the immediate danger has passed.
We’ve pro-actively participated in conversations with our local MP, Mike Kelloway, along with the Honorable Melanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. We’re advocating for specific measures such as an increase to the wage subsidy which was announced this week, working with big banks to clarify relief they can provide on debt-loads and merchant fee relief, and creating an EI-like program to support small business owners and those self-employed who are not eligible for EI. The list goes on as we seek supports for a variety of sectors including agriculture/fisheries, retail, manufacturing, etc. We’ve also advocated for local infrastructure projects to be supported as soon as possible including the Pan-Cape Breton Food Hub Distribution Centre, the expansion of the St. Peter’s Canal Landing (septic and boat launch), and the Ski Cape Smokey development, among others. These types of tourism projects were assembled with leadership from Destination Cape Breton, and will be key stimulus projects to create more growth potential in that particular industry.
In all of our conversations with provincial and federal representatives, the key economic outcomes we are trying to drive are:
- Keeping cash in the hands of companies – don’t give it to government to give back to companies,
- Keeping people working and off of social assistance of any kind for as long as possible, and
- Ensuring liquidity to support the recovery from this crisis and flattening the economic curve.
Paraphrasing the words of Dr. Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, we can get through this with the “3 C’s” – Caring, Community and Common Sense. As your Chamber, we know these are dark days for business – we hear you, and we feel it too. That’s why it’s never been more important for us to come together as individuals, as communities, and as businesses – physically distant, but united in purpose and strength!
Social media means the barrage of information is almost too much to bear, but it’s also been the source of great value and kindness with groups such as our regional Businesses that Deliver groups (northern region and southern region) and the Ultimate Online Nova Scotia Kitchen Party popping up. As we monitor the situation and talk to our members, we’ve never been more proud of our #ChamberFamily – grocery stores, pharmacies, salons, retail locations, restaurants, and all kinds of businesses are making drastic and sudden changes to their business models to ensure that people are safe, and that they can access the goods and services they need. Front line workers in many of these locations are risking their health on a daily basis and business owners are innovating to begin manufacturing personal protective equipment and disinfectants. Business owners, managers, and employees alike are contributing positive content to social media, delivering food and other products to those who are most vulnerable to the virus, supporting food banks, and so much more. SO MANY of our members are practicing the Business of Good in all of these ways – there are simply too many to count!
For each businesses owner across rural Cape Breton and the Strait Area, we have one simple message – you’re not alone and we’re here for you! Make sure to take care of yourself through these trying times; reach out if you need to talk or have questions, take a break from the constant flow of news, get a bit of exercise each day, find a way to help someone, cook together as a family, connect by phone/video chat, and wash your hands. Remember – the most important thing in your business is you!
For more information on how we’re helping businesses survive through, and thrive on, the other side of this crisis, visit:
- BUSINESSES THAT DELIVER! If you offer a delivery service, take out, or some other means of contributing to public safety, use this new tool to share information with the public!
- WE’RE WORKING FOR YOU! Advocacy is ongoing with all levels of government and we’ve provided a quick list of what we’ve been doing to increase access to capital, protect workers, etc. We need more information from you, so please take a look and contact us if you have info to add.
- COVID-19 RESOURCE LINKS – Information from reliable sources on the status of COVID-19 in Canada.
- GOVERNMENT ACTION / RELIEF – Daily updates and a comprehensive list of the federal and provincial programs to help your business survive these turbulent times.
- WEBINARS / LEARNING – Information on webinars and learning opportunities that help you navigate through these uncertain times.
- HOW TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES – Learn about the small gestures you can make that will help local businesses weather the storm!
- BEST BUSINESS PRACTICES – A hit-list of must do’s to protect your customers, your staff, and yourself!
- IMPACTS TO EXPECT FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES – There’s so much to consider for your business in these uncertain times. We’re providing info on what to expect in the coming days/weeks.
#StrongerTogether #ChamberFamily #StayWell #StayHome #Innovate #Contribute #GoodNeighbours #TheThreeCs