KENORA, ONTARIO ~~~ April 28, 2020 (LSN) A joint letter, co-written by Melillo, Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Marcus Powlowski, and Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus, outlines how seasonal and tourism businesses in Northern Ontario have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenora riding MP Eric Melillo has co-authored a letter with other Northern Ontario Members of Parliament, calling for immediate support for tourism operators and airlines serving remote communities.
“Over the past weeks, I’ve spoken to many businessowners in the Kenora riding who are not being helped by the current programs,” Melillo stated. “Our region’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism and seasonal work, and many businesses are at risk of falling through the cracks.”
“In all three of our ridings, there are a large number of small businesses that earn livelihoods through tourism, including fly-in fishing companies, lodges, and recreational equipment manufacturers,” the MPs write. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel restrictions within the province and at the border, however, all tourism to our region has stopped. These businesses, which would normally be preparing to open at this point in the year, are looking towards a summer with likely little to no revenue if the restrictions continue.”
The letter notes that many small or seasonal businesses are not able to access supports from the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) or the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
Air carriers serving remote Indigenous communities are also struggling to meet payroll and operating costs due to the dramatic drop in demand for passenger service due to COVID-19. “Allowing these air carriers – which are the lifelines for these communities – to cease operations at this time due to costs would only add to the challenges they are facing, and potentially put lives at risk,” the letter states.
MPs Melillo, Powlowski, and Angus are requesting:
The letter is addressed to Finance Minister Bill Morneau; Transport Minister Marc Garneau; Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller; and Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly.
“Northern businesses and communities face unique challenges and need help urgently if they are going to weather this crisis,” Melillo stated. “I was happy to join MPs Powlowski and Angus in this multi-partisan call for support.”
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