COVID-19

The Issue

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected international trade and global economies on a massive scale. Rapid and coordinated action by the federal and provincial governments is required to ensure businesses can survive through this global pandemic.

Please refer to COVID-19: Resources for Business for up-to-date information.

Our Position

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with local chambers and many provincial business groups, conducted a survey on March 16 and 17, 2020. There were over 1000 responses from across the province. The SCC recommended immediate action by government in the following areas could help offset business challenges:

  • Immediate action on Federal Employment Insurance (EI) – Open up the criteria on EI to eliminate the waiting periods, allow self-employed persons full access to EI for a certain period of time, offer extensions on the Work-Sharing program, extend or temporarily eliminate the length of time a person can stay on EI, and offer some form of EI for parents who need to stay at home to provide childcare with the closure of public schools.
  • Allow layoffs  without termination – Revise the provincial layoff policy to allow temporary layoffs of up to 8 weeks on a specific period without requiring notice or payment in lieu. Manitoba has this policy in place currently.
  • Expand loan access – Provide quick turnaround, low interest loans to businesses to ensure they have enough cash flow to sustain them during this dramatic loss in revenue. Greater use of the Federal Canada Small Business Loan program facilitated by local credit unions and banks will mean easier transactions.
  • Extend tax windows – All levels of government should extend all tax payment deadlines to reflect the current situation and to enable businesses to preserve short-term cash flow.
  • Ensure access of products across the border – Define international border rules for incoming transportation drivers to ensure sustained flow of products while maintaining effective safety protocols.

Recommendations

SCC Recommended Actions To Date

1. Fiscal and Monetary Stimulus 

2. Immediate Action on Federal Employment Insurance (EI)

3. Allow for Layoffs Without Termination

Amend layoff policy under the Saskatchewan Employment Act to allow for temporary layoffs of up to eight weeks on a specific period without requiring notice or payment in lieu, similar to Manitoba.

4. Expand Loan Access to Businesses

Provide quick turnaround, low or no interest loans to businesses to ensure they have adequate cash flow to sustain them during dramatic revenue losses. Greater use of the Federal Canada Small Business Loan program facilitated by local credit unions and banks will ensure for easier transactions.

5. Ensure Access to Products

Clearly define international border rules for incoming transport drivers to ensure the  sustained flow of good, while also maintaining effective public health and safety protocols.

6. Extend Tax or Bill Payment Deadlines

All levels of government should extend all tax payment deadlines to reflect the current situation and to better enable businesses to preserve short-term cash flow.

 

Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce Logo Greyscale

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