Business needs more timely support from government

The NL Employers’ Council was in the news this week calling for more timely support from the provincial government to help businesses survive Covid-19 shutdowns, and swifter action to address the province’s economic crisis.

The NL Employers’ Council, along with eight other business associations sent a letter to government in early April outlining no-cost and low-cost options on how to help businesses survive this pandemic. After repeated meetings with government officials including Finance Minister Tom Osborne, Ministers Bernard Davis and Chris Mitchelmore, representatives from the Premier’s office and other government departments many of these requests have still not been actioned. While we appreciate the accessibility and willingness to hear from the business community, as Employers’ Council Executive Director, Richard Alexander told CBC: government is stuck in the bureaucracy of things. They need to understand we are fighting two crises. As Alexander put it: “The house is on fire. We don’t have time to strike a committee to decide which hose we are going to use to put the fire out.”

View some of the media coverage:

VOCM Morning Show – April 28
CBC Here & Now – April 30
CBC On The Go – April 30 – May 1
VOCM Morning Show – May 1
NTV Evening News – May 1

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald responds to Employers’ Council’s request for support and publicly shows willingness to work with business

We are continuing to work with government to get more support for business as we navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and plans for reopening our economy. This week, we met with Leader of the Opposition Ches Crosbie and Finance Critic Tony Wakeham. We also met with Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald today, and will be meeting with Minister’s Osborne, Davis and Mitchelmore again tomorrow to receive an update on our requests for support.

While government has been slow to act, our efforts are producing results. Today’s meeting with Dr. Fitzgerald was especially productive. She has expressed flexibility and a willingness to work with industry as plans are developed to reopen businesses. In today’s press conference, she expressed her support and concern for the business community. We will continue this dialogue with the CMO’s office as plans to reopen are further developed. We have also seen some movement from the province due to our efforts in the last week, including a commitment to commercial rent support, changes to liquor legislation to support businesses, compensation for businesses to support employees who have to self isolate, and establishment of a Business Response Team to help business navigate through the reopening.

We will continue to highlight the sense of urgency regarding the economic crisis to politicians and press for further supports. We expect further updates and announcements in the coming days, and will keep members informed as this situation develops.