Victoria Chamber of Commerce calls for urgent help from governments

Victoria Chamber of Commerce calls for urgent help from governments
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Shops along Government Street in downtown Victoria

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, along with Destination Greater Victoria and the Downtown Victoria Business Association, have penned a letter to both the federal and provincial governments asking for immediate relief help.

Over the last few weeks, Victoria businesses have started to take an economic hit from the fallout of  the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of the “suffering” outlined by the Chamber of Commerce in the letter is a direct result of public health measures instituted by the government in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We ask that all governments not charge late filing penalties and instalment interest on balances owing to government from today until COVID-19 is under control,” reads the letter. “Many businesses are
struggling to survive the profound loss of revenue caused by requirements for social isolation and
restrictions placed on travel.”

One of the biggest factors that local businesses are bracing for is the lack of tourists coming to the city from cruise ships. Last week, Transport Canada issued a ban on all ships with more than 500 passengers from docking in the country.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority estimated that the ban would mean cancelling over 117 port calls.

“Governments can help businesses facing financial uncertainty and severe cash flow reduction by being flexible regarding the timing of, and consequences for, payment of taxes and through access to interest-
free loans,” said the co-signed letter. “For the federal government, this includes payroll instalments, GST and corporate income taxes….For British Columbia, this includes Employer Health Tax, PST and WCB premiums.”

With gatherings in the province limited to 50 people or less, local restaurants, pubs, entertainment and recreation facilities are taking an economic hit as well.

“Please help businesses survive this extreme situation.”

The Chamber of Commerce’s concerns about economic difficulties are echoed by the majority of Canadians, after a recently released Angus Reid Survey showed that 65% of the population is worried about finances and market chaos.



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