That, given that, (i) Canadian businesses are in distress and need help to survive as a rapid testing and vaccination plan rolls out, (ii) according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 46% are worried about the survival of their business, (iii) the federal government must support employment by removing barriers to job creation, such as taxes and regulation,the House call on the government to: (a) provide complete details on the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program by December 16, 2020, including criteria, when businesses can apply, which sectors are eligible, when repayment will be required, and how much forgiveness will be offered; (b) fix the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility by reducing restrictions and amending the interest rate schedule; (c) postpone the increase of the Canada Pension Plan payroll taxes planned for January 1, 2021; and (d) postpone the increase of the carbon tax and the alcohol escalator tax planned for 2021.
He said: Madam Speaker, I rise today to propose that we move from the credit card economy to the paycheque economy.
Let me tell colleagues what I mean by that by illustrating the difference in approach between the government and us here in the Conservative opposition.
Last week, the made an interesting observation. She told BNN, “I want to thank you, first of all, for really zeroing in on the preloaded stimulus idea”. That idea is the following: “[Households] do have quite a lot of money that they have saved because there has not been much to do in the pandemic. Certainly, it would be great if that money could go towards driving our recovery.... If people have ideas on how the government can act to help unlock that preloaded stimulus, I am very, very interested.”
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, those who have money in their bank accounts should lock it away. They might even want to put it under their beds before the government finds out that it is there. The government thinks people are saving too much and wants to empty their bank accounts as the best way, it thinks, to get the economy started.
Now some will say that the minister did not meant what she said, and that what she was trying to say was that we need more consumer spending in this miserable economy. Certainly that debt-induced spending would create activity, but never confuse activity with achievement.
The CIBC has reported that a very large share of the government's COVID emergency spending has been leaking right out of Canada altogether, because the debt-funded money that consumers are spending is actually going to imported goods. All of those Amazon and Alibaba deliveries are of products imported from abroad, and when those products come in, our money goes out. That is how our economy has been functioning for the last five years. Five years in a row, there have been five trade deficits.
Here is what a trade deficit is: We buy more than we sell and we borrow to make up the difference. We buy from the world and borrow from the world. They get the money, investment and jobs. We are left with the debt. Day by day, we become more and more reliant on the People's Republic of China and other economic powerhouses that send us their goods so that we can send them our money.
More and more, our population becomes enslaved to debt. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is now 384% when households, businesses and governments are combined. This is a record-smashing level of debt. It is the second-highest in the G7, behind only Japan. It means that for every one percentage point increase in the effective interest rate, we will have a 3.84% increase in the economic cost of our debt on the world stage.
The House will hear more of this from the member for , with whom I am splitting my time. He too is concerned about the fact that money is the best servant but the worst master. If someone invests their money, it will serve them. If they borrow money, it will be a master over them. That is what is happening with Canadians today. This high level of debt to fund short-term consumption has only made us weaker and more vulnerable to the rest of the world. We do not need to come back out of this pandemic lockdown with even more debt. In fact, we need precisely the opposite.
We need Canadians to save, earn and invest. First we save to prepare for the future and a secure retirement, and then we invest. Much of those savings are converted either by being lent out by banks to small businesses or converted into TFSAs and RRSPs, into equities and other investments that build factories, dig mines and develop intellectual property and patented technologies.
Those assets then produce ongoing income to power our economy into the future. Instead of debt-fuelled consumption, we have investment-fuelled production. We are seeing none of that right now.
The Bank of Canada, which is pumping $400 billion of printed money into our economy, inflating assets for rich people, while devaluing the wages of the working class, has reported that over the next three years investment will only grow by 0.8%. In fact, it will not be until at least 2023 that we get investment levels back to where they were in 2019. Meanwhile, consumption will grow by 4.7%, six times faster than investment. Of the growth over the next two years, 80% will come in the form of debt-fuelled government spending and consumer spending. Again, that means more debt and more vulnerability.
How do we make the switch from this credit card economy to a paycheque economy? We do it by unleashing the mighty force of our 20 million Canadian workers. Let us end the war on work, by which I refer to a tax and benefit system that claws back as much as 80¢ on the dollar of some people when they go out into the work force and earn another hundred cents.
For example, if single parents get a job and earn an extra dollar from $55,000 to $55,001, they lose as much as 80¢ of that dollar to clawbacks and taxes. These penalties exist right across the income level and they ding the lowest-income people the hardest. Some people with disabilities lose more than a dollar of income for every dollar increase they have in wages. That is the war on work, punishing people for making an effort.
Let us reform our tax and benefit system so it always pays more to work. Let us reverse the insane system we have right now, which means that it takes 168 days longer to get a building permit for construction in Canada than in the United States. We are 34th out of 35 OECD nations in the delay to build a factory, or a plant or a mine, or a shopping centre. We should be number one. This should be the fastest and simplest place to get a building permit, to build a structure and to fill it with well-paid workers.
Let us knock down interprovincial trade barriers, so Canadians can actually buy and sell from one another instead of just importing cheap products from abroad. Let us speed up the recognition of the incredible skills and qualifications of immigrants who come here with knowledge in the trades and professions, so they can earn the full salary for which they are qualified rather than be forced into a low-wage job because regulators ban them from getting a permit to work. Let us open up our free enterprise system by removing red tape and shortening the amount of time our small businesses must spend filling out tax forms, so that resource can be dedicated to serving customers and hiring workers. Let us repeal Bill and Bill , so we can unleash the force of our energy and resource sectors to bring tens of billions of dollars back into the country.
We have a $14-billion LNG project awaiting approval in Quebec. We have a $20-billion oil sands project sitting around waiting in northern Alberta. We have pipelines, we have rail lines and we have transmission lines that are ready to go as soon as the government gets out of the way. Therefore, let us get the government out of the way, open up our economy and transform ourselves from a credit card economy into a paycheque economy, so our 20 million brilliant and strong Canadian workers can stand on their feet and build our economy.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to this motion that is important to all Canadian businesses.
I commend my colleague, the member for Carleton, who is our shadow minister of finance. He gave a great explanation of how we should be putting jobs ahead of credit cards. I think this is what brings us together today.
The government is having a hard time producing a vaccination plan and a recovery plan, which still do not exist. We got some bits and pieces this morning when we learned that Canada could be getting some vaccines by the end of December. That does not give our local businesses the assurance they need to resume operations and get through this period with the hope that something better is coming.
The motion before us today is very clear. It states: “given that, (i) Canadian businesses are in distress and need help to survive as a rapid testing and vaccination plan rolls out, (ii) according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 46% are worried about the survival of their business, (iii) the federal government must support employment by removing barriers to job creation, such as taxes and regulation”.
Later on in my speech, I will come back to this and talk more about the many problems we have had during the pandemic dealing with all these regulations and all the delays that are causing businesses across the country to suffer and drown in red tape and debt. Unfortunately, as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business pointed out, 46%, or nearly half, of businesses are worried they will not survive the pandemic. That is why my colleague's motion rightly calls on the government to be upfront, lay its cards on the table and help businesses cope with the pandemic.
The motion urges the House to “call on the government to: (a) provide complete details on the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program by December 16, 2020, including criteria, when businesses can apply, which sectors are eligible, when repayment will be required,” which is very important to planning a business's survival, “and how much forgiveness will be offered; (b) fix the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility by reducing restrictions and amending the interest rate schedule; (c) postpone the increase of the Canada Pension Plan payroll taxes planned for January 1, 2021; and (d) postpone the increase of the carbon tax and the alcohol escalator tax planned for 2021”.
With every business struggling, now is not the time to be taking even more from them by increasing these two taxes.
This motion calls on the government to be straight with businesses and let them know where they stand. Unfortunately, from day one, the government has been holding press conferences in front of the house and from behind a table, and that is how we get our information day by day.
Sadly, by proroguing Parliament, the government decided to put off measures that were absolutely necessary for helping businesses cope with the pandemic. It created even more uncertainty for them and made things even more difficult for those who want to get back up and running and who we hope will still be there thanks to the measures that will have been put in place.
The problem is that the government announces measures, but does not provide the details until too much later. I will talk about some of the situations encountered by companies back home that are having difficulty with all these programs.
First, not a day goes by that a business does not call us to say it is having problems because of delays in processing immigration applications for foreign workers, who are absolutely essential right now. This delays certain investment plans and the resumption of certain activities, causing unnecessary problems in the system.
For instance, a cheese factory in Mégantic—L'Érable reports that processing times for foreign worker permits have increased dramatically. An application for a cheese maker was submitted last April, and they are still waiting for a decision. That is unacceptable. How can we expect that company, which is essential because it is in the food sector, to do what it needs to do if it cannot meet its labour needs?
I have been working on a file that boggles the mind. Some companies, such as Princecraft and Fournier Industries, to name just a couple, have had problems with the application of the work-sharing program. At the beginning of the crisis, their employees were able to use the CERB, and rightly so, because the companies had to shut down temporarily. However, when they decided to reopen, those employees, who had been taking part in the work-sharing program, did not receive their wages for months. Why? It was because the systems were not coordinated.
The administrative delays were outright unacceptable. The companies had to wait for months and advance considerable sums to some of their employees to keep them in work. Some lost their employees because they just could not afford to pay them. Unfortunately, some employees were not paid from June to October, in the midst of the pandemic, even though these companies had decided to answer the government's call. They recalled their employees, but the government was nowhere to be found. It was the government that failed to pay the employees what they were owed. That is unacceptable.
I would like to talk about the Castech Plessitech Group, another business in my riding that found itself in a very difficult situation. Employment and Social Development Canada, which conducts labour market impact assessments, or LMIAs, claimed that the pandemic should make it easier for businesses to recruit employees. In the midst of a pandemic where many people are unemployed, businesses are trying to hire staff and are making job offers, but unfortunately, they get no response, because the assistance measures encourage people to stay home.
The businesses have therefore turned to foreign workers, as they used to do, but they are running into administrative delays. Sometimes the department is even refusing to give these businesses permits because it says that there are people available here in Canada, but that is not the case on the ground. It is not happening. No workers are available because people are receiving government assistance or are simply not available to work. That means that many businesses have had to turn down contracts.
It is time to do the right thing and give Canadian businesses the details of these programs by December 16 so that they know exactly what to expect and can get their operations back up and running properly. They also need to know when they will have to pay back the money that the government lent them.
Most importantly, I am asking the government to do everything in its power to ensure that rapid tests and vaccines are distributed across the country as quickly as possible. We still have not seen a real plan to help these companies get back up and running. As long as we do not have a real plan for rapid testing and vaccinations, then there can be no real economic recovery plan.
Above all, during this pandemic, I am calling on the government to reduce red tape for small businesses. We need to make sure that people can get back to work as quickly as possible. By adopting this motion, the House will send the government a clear message.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure, as always, to take part in debates on the floor of the House of Commons, despite it being virtual as it has been for the last number of months.
The motion on the floor deals with various planned supports for small businesses. I did want to take a moment before I address the substance of the motion to more broadly address the importance of supporting small business, particularly during this unprecedented economic crisis.
The pandemic that is tied to COVID-19 has changed everything about the way that we live. It has changed the way we work. It has changed the way we socialize. It has caused us to give up many of the comforts we have for so long taken for granted.
Over the course of this pandemic, we realized very quickly that it was not just a public health emergency, but it posed an extraordinary threat to the well-being of our nation's economy, as well. Upon realizing the magnitude of this potential economic shock, our government quickly moved to establish emergency supports for households and businesses to ensure that we could mitigate against the seriousness of the economic consequences that would follow the pandemic, but also to ensure that we could set the stage for future growth.
We developed this plan by doing the simple thing: listening. We spoke to stakeholders who represent small businesses, medium-sized businesses and big businesses. I remember being on the phone through the night in the spring understanding what small businesses needed to survive so they could help contribute to the recovery on the back end of this pandemic.
Over the course of taking in this feedback and through consultation with experts, we have developed a plan. We realize that the first step to our plan has to be to keep Canadians safe and to defeat the virus. We know the most important policy, in terms of protecting our economy, is to protect the health and well-being of Canadians. We will not see an economic recovery until we have defeated this virus.
The second pillar of our plan is to ensure that while we work to defeat the virus, we extend emergency supports to households and businesses so they can weather the storm and make sure that on the back end of this pandemic, they are positioned well to help bounce back and contribute to the nation's recovery.
The final pillar of our plan, which was alluded to in the recent fall economic statement, is going to be to make certain important and tranformative investments that are going to set the stage for long-term economic growth. The motion on the floor pertains to support for business, so I will focus my comments there.
It is important to keep in mind that more than $8 out of every $10 spent in response to COVID-19 has come from our government. We have worked with provinces, communities and different associations, but the reality is that we made the decision early on that the cost of inaction was too great and the federal government would be there to support households and businesses, and to make the investments necessary to help defeat the virus.
In particular, I want to draw the House's attention to certain business supports we have advanced over the past number of months. First and foremost, the Canada emergency wage subsidy is a program we developed after listening to businesses. They said the cost of keeping their employees on the payroll is too great and if they do not have support, we will have millions of Canadian workers without jobs.
We moved quickly, initially with a smaller version of the wage subsidy. When we heard that it needed to be increased, that is precisely what we did. We established a program that is covering up to 75% of the cost of wages for employees in Canada. This is keeping nearly four million workers on the payroll to date. This is important not only for providing the income support to those workers in the short term, but for maintaining that connection between the worker and their job so that when conditions allow, those workers cannot just be on the payroll, but can actually be on the shop floor so they can help boost the productivity of their employer and hopefully help them survive this pandemic.
In addition to the Canada emergency wage subsidy, we have put forward the Canada emergency business account. This is a small-business, interest-free, government-backed loan program that initially provided $40,000 to small businesses and $10,000 of that $40,000 was forgivable if certain conditions were met, including paying it back on a particular schedule.
In the fall economic statement, we improved that policy. Not only did we expand its eligibility over time, but we took steps to make sure it became more generous. We added an additional $20,000 to that loan program, $10,000 of which is forgivable as well. This means that small businesses across Canada have access to $60,000 in support, $20,000 of which is forgivable.
This program was designed to help businesses do simple things such as pay their utility bills and literally keep the lights on so their employees, who might be benefiting from the wage subsidy, can actually have a place to come back to work. This particular program has now reached approximately 800,000 businesses across Canada and is supporting millions of Canadians in terms of keeping them employed throughout this time of unprecedented economic uncertainty.
However, we did not stop with those two programs. We have also advanced the new Canada emergency rent subsidy and a new piece of legislation. This program is essential because we heard, loud and clear, from businesses that they needed support, not only for their employees' wages, not just for the fixed costs of running a business, but also specifically for their rent. This commercial rent subsidy program is actually able to provide up to 65% of the cost of rent for businesses that have experienced a drop in revenue.
For those who have actually been shut down as a result of a public health order in order to keep our community members safe, we have created additional lockdown support, which means the federal government will cover up to 90% of the rent for businesses that have been shut down in order to protect public health. This may sound expensive, but it is the right thing to do because it has a public health outcome and also provides the emergency support to businesses to make it easier and more economically viable for them to do the right thing for our population's health.
We realize that there are certain businesses that may not have been covered by some of these programs, so we established the regional relief and recovery fund, which mirrors the emergency business account and provides support to businesses that may not otherwise meet some of the eligibility criteria. We invested in programs to extend liquidity support across the economy to ensure that the steady flow of cash would prevent massive deflation, leading to potential job losses and business shutdowns. These programs are taking hold.
However, it is not just the programs that have directly supported business. I did not even mention the many deferrals or remittance delays that we have allowed, to the tune of $85 billion, to help businesses keep cash in their accounts rather than giving it to the government. It is important that we also draw attention to the personal income support through the Canada emergency response benefit, or CERB, which was designed to help Canadians who lost income as a result of this pandemic.
This program in particular has helped over nine million Canadian households keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. I bring it up in the context of supports for business, which this motion is geared towards, because it actually filled a gap for a lot of self-employed Canadians who did not have access to ordinary EI programs. When they lost income as a result of their business and they needed support, CERB was there for them, whether they were self-employed or not, to help ensure that they could continue to meet the costs of living despite the uncertainty that this pandemic has injected into their lives and throughout the economy.
I want to spend a few minutes on the importance of our health response to the success of businesses, both in the short term and the long term. We know in the long term that this pandemic will end with a vaccine. I was thrilled to see the announcement today that Canada expects, very soon, the first doses to arrive in Canada. As soon as next week, 249,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive.
I would like to draw the House's attention to the portfolio of vaccines that we have procured. It is the most robust portfolio in the entire world, with more doses per capita than any other country. By casting a wide net, we improved our chances of having access to those vaccines that were to be approved first. Now that the Pfizer vaccine appears to be on the eve of arrival, we can also point to three other candidates that are in the regulatory process and should be approved, assuming Health Canada says it is safe, for rollout in Canada before too long.
The reality is we have been working with provinces and the Canadian Armed Forces to develop a distribution plan for these vaccines. This plan will ensure our population becomes inoculated as quickly as possible, so that Canadians can return to the new version of normal and continue to help businesses succeed on their own, rather than rely on these emergency supports over the course of the pandemic.
It is not just the vaccines that we have invested in to help keep Canadians safe. Through the safe restart agreement with the provinces, we have now injected nearly $20 billion on things like testing and contact tracing. We have rolled out 5 million rapid tests throughout the country, in the provinces, to help ensure that they could be deployed in a way that would protect communities.
The reality is, if it still unsafe to go out and eat in restaurants, visit a movie theatre, go to a sporting event or a local show at the theatre, these are the kinds of things that will help the economy rebound more quickly. Until Canadians feel that it is safe to actually be out in their communities, we cannot expect the rebound to reach its full potential. That is why we are making these investments, and they are taking hold in provinces across Canada.
If anyone wants an international comparator, over 80% of the jobs that were lost during the depths of this pandemic have in fact now returned in Canada, compared to a little more than half in the United States. The recent jobs report from Statistics Canada shows that in my home province of Nova Scotia, the last month has seen 10,000 new jobs created and our unemployment today is even better than it was a year ago.
That is due in part because of the responsible measures put in place by our local governments, and the public buy-in we have seen across this province to help keep one another safe, but we cannot take it for granted. If we want to expect to continue to see this kind of rebound, we are going to need to continue to follow public health advice and ensure businesses and people are supported when it is not safe to be out in our communities.
I want to direct people's attention to a few elements of the motion I find are problematic. First, although this is perhaps a smaller point, the Conservatives have demanded more information about our new credit program for highly affected sectors. This new program is going to provide loans of up to $1 million. These loans are to be 100% government backed and have lower than market interest rates. They will ensure the hardest-hit sectors, which would otherwise be viable but for this pandemic, are able to have access to the supports they need so they are still here on the back end of COVID-19.
The design work of this program is ongoing, and we are going to continue to consult with stakeholders, in particular the tourism and hospitality sectors, to make sure we get this program right. The motion puts a drop-dead deadline of I believe nine days from now to divulge the details of the program. I respectfully suggest we would be well served to continue our consultation with the stakeholders in those hardest hit sectors before we roll out details to ensure the program actually achieves its intended outcome and serves those who have been hardest hit.
The motion also draws attention to a financing program for large employers. We are always open to suggestions on how these programs can be enhanced, but with respect, this program is supporting thousands upon thousands of Canadians. It is helping their employers who, again, would otherwise be viable but for this pandemic, and is keeping them employed throughout this. The program was intended to be a last resort for businesses that have been looking for access to liquidity elsewhere and have been unable to find it. It is, in fact, keeping Canadians employed in real communities across our country today.
There are two shortcomings with this motion that are particularly important. The Conservatives have suggested that instead of continuing to put forward programs that support businesses directly during this time of emergency, what we should do is pause the increase to Canada pension plan premiums and do away with our price on pollution. I will deal with each of these in turn.
With respect to the Canada pension plan, I find it shocking the Conservatives' position is that we should finance the small business supports by denying access to a secure retirement for Canadian seniors. This is not the first time they made the suggestion that we not continue to properly fund the Canada pension plan. The reality is we can afford in Canada to dignify a retirement for our seniors by improving and investing in the Canada pension plan and support businesses at the same time. That is precisely what we have been planning to do.
We will not rob the retirement fund for Canadian seniors in order to fund support programs for Canadian businesses. We can do both. We can chew gum and walk at the same time. The reality is businesses need our support, but it should not come at the cost of the secure pensions of Canadian seniors.
The second fault I want to draw attention to will come as no surprise to those who were elected in the previous Parliament and who have seen me rise to my feet literally hundreds of times to defend our government's plan to put a price on pollution. This is perhaps the most important policy we have advanced, and which many countries in the world have advanced, in order to fight climate change.
The reality is this is not a cost we should be looking at because the program has been designed in a way that polluters pay and households benefit. I could go down the list of notable Conservatives who have defended this approach to fight climate change before, but because it is politically unpopular for some of our members of the House of Commons, they seem unwilling to even acknowledge the fact eight out of 10 Canadian households receive more through the climate action incentive than they would actually experience in an increased cost of living.
This is good policy that is going to help continue to reduce emissions in Canada so we can fight climate change. This, by the way, will not only help protect our economic interests and health outcomes in the long term, but it will also ensure households continue to receive more money in the climate action incentive than they are putting out as a result of any increased cost due to our price on pollution. The reality is we should not be taking money from households in this way in order to continue to support businesses. We can support households and businesses at the same time. This is not a zero-sum game. It is the right thing to do.
I would like to draw attention to some of the comments that were made by the hon. member for during his opening remarks. I found it surprising that he did not seem to draw his comments from the motion on the floor, nor did he seem to acknowledge that there is a global pandemic on the go.
The reality is, looking at the world that we live in today, if the hon. member wants to argue that we should be moving toward a paycheque economy, the very first thing he should do is realize that the paycheques have been interrupted for millions of Canadians, not because of decisions taken by the government, but because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. For public health reasons, provinces and, to some extent, the federal government have decided that the safe thing to do is to shut down our economies or reduce certain kinds of activities in our communities in order to save lives.
As I mentioned earlier in my remarks, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that the economy cannot rebound when people are afraid to go out to shops and restaurants, when people will not be booking travel and when people are afraid to go out to stadiums or to cultural venues. We need to do everything we can and spare no expense to do whatever is necessary to defeat this virus as quickly as possible.
When I hear the opposition members dig in and continue to focus on how much money has been spent rather than the value that is being provided for that money, I am more and more confident that I am on the right side of this debate on the government side of the House. The reality is that the best thing we can do for our economy is to continue to fund the fight against COVID-19. The second best thing that we need to do is continue to extend emergency supports to households and businesses to ensure they can keep up with the cost of living and the cost of keeping their doors open so that they are still here on the back end of this pandemic.
I draw members' attention to the comments of Gita Gopinath, the chief economist of the IMF, who is on leave from Harvard University's department of economics. She has made the point that we need to continue to invest now. When we are dealing with economies that are in a potential prolonged liquidity trap and have a central bank that is at the lower effective bound of interest rates, by investing now we will serve our long-term interests. She has described this approach as not only being economically sound policy but also as the fiscally responsible thing to do.
One of the things that we need to realize is that there is a cost to all things. Chief among them is inaction. The cost of failing to make these investments and focusing only on regulatory reform and reduced taxes will be paid for in the cost of businesses that are shuttered and households who cannot actually pay their rent or afford groceries.
The costs will be paid, at the risk of overstating things, with the lives of our loved ones. These costs are too great to ignore. We need to do the right thing and the fiscally responsible thing and make the upfront investments now to preserve the long-term interests of our economy.
The Conservatives have said repeatedly that they do not support this kind of approach to the pandemic. The finance critic himself has said that these are big, fat government programs and that they do not support them because they are Conservatives. It is high time that all parties in this House park their desire to continue to defend an outdated economic ideology and, instead, defend the Canadian households and business owners who have been on the phone with constituency offices of members of Parliament from every party and from every region of this country.
Our approach is paying dividends. We are seeing the benefits extend to reach households. We are seeing the benefits reach business owners. For the reasons I have stated during my remarks, I will be voting against this motion. I would be pleased to take whatever questions members of this House may have for me.
Madam Speaker, first, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from .
I would also like to welcome back one of my staffers, who is also a friend, Philippe Guertin, who had to take a few months off because of a somewhat difficult personal situation. I am so glad to have him back in the office today.
That said, I would like to indicate that the Bloc Québécois does not support the motion before us. We agree with the preamble of the motion. Businesses, particularly SMEs, are indeed suffering considerably from the repercussions of the pandemic, and it is the government's responsibility to bring in programs to help them get through this crisis and maintain jobs.
However, we believe that the government also has a duty to safeguard the public good. In that sense, eliminating or delaying any regulations, such as the carbon tax for example, would be detrimental to the public good. There are other, more effective ways to support our businesses in these troubled times.
Quebec businesses have been weakened by the pandemic, the drop in consumption and the health measures put in place. Our businesses have insisted, and even more so in the past eight months, that the most effective, simple and transparent way to help them would be to create a sector-specific assistance program that has measures to cover fixed costs.
Will the federal government finally take action to mitigate the financial impact of fixed costs on our Quebec businesses, especially in the tourism, culture and restaurant sectors? SMEs in those sectors are still finding it difficult to obtain the financing they need.
That is what came out of the September 30 poll of 7,000 SMEs by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which also shows that 50% of Quebec businesses believe that it will be difficult to survive a second wave of restrictions. This poll shows us that 27% of SMEs would survive less than a year with their current level of revenue. Quebec SMEs are saying they they need an average of $25,000 to cover fixed costs just in December 2020. That is a lot.
Furthermore, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business' most recent survey of 4,200 businesses on October 28 illustrates quite clearly that we still have a long way to go to help businesses.
Allow me to share some statistics: 30% of Canadian businesses reported being partially open; just 24% of Canadian businesses reported making usual revenues for that time of year; 45% of businesses reported making up to half of their usual revenues for that time of year; 35% of Quebec businesses reported losing money for every day that they were open; between 23% and 25% of businesses in the hospitality and the arts and recreation sectors were actively considering bankruptcy; 10% of businesses reported needing the Canada emergency business account—which, I remind members, is a loan—but not being eligible; 11% of businesses reported needing the Canada emergency wage subsidy but not being eligible; 28% of businesses reported needing the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program but not being eligible.
There are nearly 25,000 small and medium-sized businesses in Quebec, which represents 93% of private-sector jobs in Quebec. We are talking about 2.3 million workers whose contributions will help revive Quebec's economy and raise their families' quality of life. Would we risk losing half of that?
I remind members that SMEs are vital to Quebec's economy. The Government of Canada really failed in helping our SMEs pay their rent during the first wave, with the program that ended on September 30.
SMEs waited eight long months before getting appropriate rent assistance. I would also like to mention that the initial versions of the SME assistance programs were not really tailored to the reality of entrepreneurs. It took several months before the government started offering programs that would finally support a larger majority of businesses.
We are therefore asking for more flexibility. We feel that there is a little more flexibility and openness in the federal government's current assistance programs than in the initial versions of the programs. In fact, many of the changes made by the federal government meet the recommendations of the Bloc Québécois and, more importantly, the needs expressed by entrepreneurs themselves.
The most recent expansions of the assistance programs are leaving fewer and fewer businesses behind, but we need to go a step further, because the federal government's assistance programs do not take into account real-life situations, economic diversification and the specific realities of the regions, the hotel industry, cultural enterprises and summer camps. The entire tourism industry, a vital component of our economy, has been hard hit.
The Canada emergency business account must be made more flexible in order to give startups and entrepreneurs who do not have a business number or who have non-deferrable expenses access to the program.
There should also be retroactive assistance to cover fixed costs that were not covered by the first version of the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program, in which, you might remember, the vast majority of landlords refused to participate at tenants' request. When will the government finally present to the House a real assistance program for fixed costs that meets the real needs of SMEs in Quebec, as the Quebec government already has?
Quebec is setting an example. Many of the stakeholders I have met with have praised Quebec's effective programs, namely the concerted temporary action program for businesses and the emergency assistance to small and medium-sized businesses program. These programs are administered by Investissement Québec.
Both of these programs were enhanced by the assistance to businesses in high alert regions component, which covers certain fixed costs paid out during the closure period. Fixed costs include municipal and school taxes, the portion of rent not covered by another government program, mortgage interest, public utilities such as electricity and gas, insurance, telecommunications costs, permits and association fees. Can the federal government do the same?
As I said at the beginning of my speech, it is up to the government to implement programs to help businesses survive this crisis and maintain jobs. However, we feel that the government is also responsible for protecting the public good. In this case, eliminating or postponing regulations, such as the carbon tax, would not be conducive to the public good. There are also a number of more effective means of supporting our businesses during this difficult period.
I will now take questions.