Small business recovery after the pandemic has been a consistent talking point among candidates ahead of the federal election.

Here’s how each candidate running for the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock seat in parliament answered the following question:

As case numbers drop and vaccination rates rise, people are thinking about what our communities will look like at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. How will you support small businesses as they look to recover from the past year and a half?

Photo: Supplied by www.jamieschmale.ca

Conservative incumbent Jamie Schmale says the Tories would:

  • provide Main Street Business Loans of up to $200,000; 
  • replace the $60,000 Canada Emergency Business Account loan with a similar system offering up to four months of pre-pandemic revenue up to a maximum of $200,000, with up to 25 per cent forgivable depending on revenue losses; 
  • provide a 25 per cent tax credit on investments into small businesses; 
  • make the first $25,000 of the Canada Investment Accelerator refundable for small businesses; 
  • providea five per cent investment tax credit for any capital investment made in 2022 and 2023.

Schmale says the party would also make changes to the Canada Revenue Agency such as:

  • make the Taxpayer Ombudsman an officer of Parliament with order-making authority;
  • measure and report on the tax gap, to assign CRA resources where problems exist;
  • impose a duty of care (a legal obligation to a reasonable standard) on CRA; 
  • lower tax rates and simplify rules;
  • reduce first-time CRA penalties to minor fines, increasing severity on repeat offences;
  • provide new small businesses with CRA educational materials;
  • allow businesses with revenue of less than $60,000 to use cash accounting. 

Photo credit: Judi Forbes’ Facebook page

Liberal candidate Judi Forbes says:

“The Liberal Party has supported individuals and small businesses right through this pandemic. We wanted to make sure no one fell through the cracks and no one suffered unduly because of the global pandemic. And I would say the party has done an exceptional job in having Canadians’ backs during the worst parts of this pandemic. 

And going forward we want to make sure no one is left behind, and make sure our businesses can start up, grow and thrive. And we have business support for just that like the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, and support that will help businesses hire more employees or pay more to their employees. And we want to transition to a cleaner and greener future as well, so helping businesses to transition and giving support to businesses to transition off fossil fuels and onto clean energy. There are subsidies to do just that. And there is no reason why in this riding we couldn’t have a cleaner, greener industry move into the riding that would create more jobs for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.” 

(Photo supplied by Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock NDP)

New Democratic Party candidate Zac Miller says the NDP would give funding grants to small businesses proportional to their expenses and continue pandemic wage subsidies. 

“It wouldn’t be a small amount, it wouldn’t be just $1,000,” says Miller. “Businesses really gave up a lot during the pandemic, especially the mom and pop stores, so I think that they should be treated fairly and equitably during the whole process.”

Miller also says the party would encourage local spending by implementing a universal basic income of at least $2,000 per month, similar to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. According to Miller, the party would also forgive $20,000 of student loan debt as a first step towards cancelling student loan debt entirely, something he says would also stimulate local economies by giving young people more disposable income.

Angel Godsoe (Source: Green Party HKLB on Facebook)

Green Party candidate Angel Godsoe says:

“It is all about community, Covid helped us remember that – The GPC will:

  • Invest heavily in affordable, green public transit and healthy transportation that suits the regions’ needs
  • Make financial support available to local struggling small businesses (partner with municipalities for relief funding distribution)
  • Reinforce and support local food supply chains
  • Develop urban partnerships with all levels of government to re-energize urban cores across the country
  • Implement a [Guaranteed Livable Income] to help individuals as their income from their small business slowly returns”

Alison Davidson (Source: alisondavidson.ca)

People’s Party candidate Alison Davidson says scrapping the carbon tax and reducing income tax would give people more money to either spend at local businesses or invest in their own businesses.

Davidson also proposes a two-tier flat tax rate, rather than a tax bracket system.

“It feels unfair to be punished as you work on your career; you work your way up and you start making more money and you think ‘everything will be easier now,’ but then they take more,” says Davidson. “I don’t think we should be punished for working hard or being successful.”

Gene Balfour [right] and his daughter (Supplied by Gene Balfour)

Libertarian candidate Gene Balfour says that to allow small businesses to recover, lockdown measures should end. Balfour says that as a business owner, he has followed all government regulations during the pandemic, but thinks the choice should be left up to individual businesses. 

He cites the Great Barrington Declaration which advocates for “focused protection” of the people most vulnerable to the virus while those who are less vulnerable can choose to continue on as normal.

“The virus is now endemic; it will never go away, it will never stop, so we need to learn to live with the virus the same way we learned to live with the flu and every other disease that came along,” says Balfour. “That may involve vaccines for some people:  I think that also should be a personal choice. Everybody should take more personal responsibility and less mandated responsibility for their own health, but also allow other people to make a living, to live their lives accordingly.”

The federal election is September 20th.

**with files from Mo Fahim, Mathew Reisler, and Martin Halek