Quebec Solidaire asks the government not to let small businesses down

Quebec Solidaire (QS) is calling on the government to update programs to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that continue to suffer from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SMEs that were forced to cease all or part of their activities due to the health crisis could obtain funding through the Aide aux entreprises en région en alerte maximale (AERAM) program.

The program, however, which took the form of a loan forgiveness, ceased last Sept. 30, “Even though the pandemic is not over,” said QS spokesperson on economic matters Ruba Ghazal.

She is urging the government to extend or adjust the AERAM.

“We need to update the assistance programs because the bars and restaurants are not operating at full capacity, and as the sanitary measures are still not alleviated, which creates costs for merchants, we must adapt the assistance programs to the situation,” Ghazal, MNA for Mercier.

To help businesses get through the fourth wave, Quebec Solidaire is also proposing changes to the Temporary Concerted Action Program for Business (PACTE) and the Emergency Assistance Program for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (PAUPME), which provide loans to SMEs.

“PACTE and PAUPME are still in effect, but they are loans, and businesses must start paying interest on these loans as of November 30, while the health measures are still in place,” said Ghazal, adding that some businesses will not be able to pay the interest as they struggle to keep their heads above water.

Quebec Solidaire joins the New Association of Quebec Bars in calling for the cancellation of the 3 per cent interest on loans granted by the government in emergency assistance programs such as PACTE and PAUPME.

— This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 10, 2021.