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Richmond candidates propose temporary wage support, tax credits to help hard-hit businesses thrive

Parties differ on how they would help business owners thrive in a post-pandemic world.
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Liberal candidate Parm Bains (left) and Conservative candidate Kenny Chiu.

While the Liberals talk about providing temporary wage and rent support to help people in the tourism sector to weather the winter, the Conservatives plan to help business owners pay up to 50 per cent of the salary of new hires for six months. 

Federal parties have been rolling out their platforms on how to help businesses thrive in a post-COVID-19 world with many industries being hit hard by the fallout of the pandemic.

Parm Bains, running as a Liberal candidate for the riding of Steveston-Richmond East, said the Canada Recovery Hiring Program proposed by the Liberals could help employers hire new workers they need so that the economy can recover quicker, without leaving anyone behind.

The proposed program will offer employers a subsidy of up to 50 per cent of incremental remuneration paid to active employees and will be available until Nov. 20, 2021. 

"This program could enable employers that have suffered revenue loss throughout the pandemic to offset a portion of the extra cost related to reopening. It will also make it easier for businesses to increase wages or hours or create new job opportunities," said Bains, adding that "it's not just about surviving, it's all about growing the businesses."

Few industries have fallen as far and fast as tourism amid the pandemic, especially in Richmond, where the sector plays a significant role in the economy. 

Bains said the Liberals plan to protect the tourism sector by offering a temporary wage and rent support of up to 75 per cent of employers' expenses to help them get through the winter. 

The Conservatives, in the meantime, are proposing a Canada Job Surge Plan to pay up to 50 per cent of the salary of new hires for the first six months following the end of Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), adding incentive for employers to hire people who have been out of the workforce for more than half a year. 

Kenny Chiu, running for re-election in Steveston-Richmond East as the Conservative candidate, said small and medium-sized businesses are economic engines of the country, especially in Richmond, where mom-and-pop stores play a huge role. 

"It's critical to get small businesses back to their feet so that Canadians can get back to work and our economy can get restarted. Throwing money all over the map won't help. The government is not in the business of creating jobs. It is actually in the business of creating the conditions to help business owners to create more jobs," said Chiu. 

In addition to the Job Surge Plan, the Conservatives are promising, if elected, to provide a five per cent investment tax credit for any capital investment made by companies in 2022 and 2023, with the first $25,000 to be refundable for small businesses. 

Canadians who invest in small businesses over the next two years will be provided a 25 per cent tax credit on amounts of up to $100,000. 

The Liberals, said Chiu, have been providing tax credits to multi-billion dollar corporations, stressing that small business owners need urgent help instead. 

"We realize that even before the pandemic, Canada suffered significant capital loss and we have seen capital running away from our country. We need to ensure that people have faith and trust in the local economy by investing more capital," said Chiu, adding that, hopefully, the investment accelerator plan will help turn the situation around.