April 21, 2020
Sent to: The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister
The Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
The Hon. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
The Hon. Diane Lebouthilier, Minister of National Revenue
OPEN LETTER RE: EXPANDING THE CANADA EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY TO INCLUDE NON-PROFITS, CHARITIES, MUNICIPAL AND LOCLA GOVERNMENTS AND MUNICIPAL ENTITIES, AND HEALTH RESEARCH INSTITUTES
As workers, businesses and organizations await the full rollout of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program (CEWS), I am hearing from organizations and entities who seeking assistance to retain employees, meet urgent funding shortfalls and prevent suspension or closure of operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These organizations and entities have been excluded from eligibility for the CEWS, and appeal for an expansion of the criteria in order to prevent negative fallout ranging from shutdown of projects to loss of staff to permanent closure, all of which will have cascading consequences for our community.
The eligibility criteria specifically exclude public bodies, including “municipalities and local governments, Crown corporations, wholly owned municipal corporations, public universities, colleges, schools and hospitals”.
However, these exclusionary criteria will have a serious impact on Vancouver East. For example, the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) is a not-for-profit organization owned by the City of Vancouver, but which operates at arms-length and is financially independent from the City of Vancouver. Governed by a City Council-appointed independent Board of Directors, the PNE does not receive government funding; it is funded by surplus revenues generated by activities on its home sits of Hastings Park that are then invested back into the Hastings Park site and community programs. The PNE is a historic, 110-year-old institution and is a sizeable employer in my constituency. I have been advised that, at present, the PNE has 1600 part time staff not working, and that approximately 125 full-time union and management staff have been laid off; and, their annual hiring of about 2500 seasonal and part time summer staff will likely not materialize given Playland and PNE fair will not proceed due to COVID-19. At its peak operating time, the PNE employs some 4300 people. However, in her April 18 2020 daily update, Dr. Bonnie Henry advised that summer festivals, weddings, large community gatherings and things “like the PNE are not likely to happen this year”; and that "…realistically we will not be having those big events where people gather together this summer” as “we do not have enough herd immunity or community immunity to protect everybody and allow that type of event to happen.”