Atlantic Chamber Calling for Targeted Support for Business

Category: In The News

Apr 2021

March 30, 2021

The Honourable Blaine Higgs, Premier of New Brunswick
The Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador
The Honourable Iain Rankin, Premier of Nova Scotia
The Honourable Dennis King, Premier of Prince Edward Island

Via email

Re: Channeling Targeted Support to Overlooked Businesses in Atlantic Canada

Dear Premiers, It has been one year since the COVID-19 emergency measures were declared in Atlantic Canada. Since then, we have seen federal and provincial governments, the private sector and citizens work together to mitigate the economic fallout of the crisis. Thank you for your continued leadership. Now with vaccinations occurring and the resumption of the Atlantic Bubble anticipated in April, for many there is a renewed hope that our region can soon begin on a path towards economic recovery.

However, the pandemic is leading to an uneven K-shaped recovery that is positive for some sectors and businesses, while others struggle to survive, predominantly small businesses. As a major source of employment in Atlantic Canada, we must ensure to channel targeted support to small business and specifically those not eligible for adequate existing support.

In December 2019 Atlantic Canada was home to 79,474 businesses, 98% of which were small with fewer than 99 employees.While the distribution of private sector employment is lower nationally for small business (68%), historically, small business accounts for about 75% of the Atlantic Region’s employment.

Of course, markets will always experience some level of creative destruction. Canada has enjoyed more business creation almost every year from 2001-2017). On average, from 2013 to 2017, 96,580 businesses were created and 90,600 disappeared. The rate of business creation is actually higher in the service sector (72,920 opened and 68,820 closed) than in the goods-producing sector (23,650 created and 21,760 disappeared) during that same period. It should be clear supporting our services-producing business in Atlantic Canada is critical.

While there have been gains and losses over this past year with temporary and permanent closures—we will not know the full scope for some time yet—the current estimate is that there are about 2,400 fewer active businesses in Atlantic Canada in November 2020 compared to November 2019.4 Our chambers of commerce and boards of trade continue to receive calls from business owners who are struggling, who are not eligible for currently available support and face the possibility of permanent closure in the very near future. From the sole-proprietors (e.g., wedding planners, photographers, caterers, florists, artists, independent consultants, and home-based businesses) to the business start ups who can’t provide fiscal proof of year-over-year losses, a common thread remains—they are all ineligible for assistance and struggling to survive.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the chamber has urged a policy approach that is timely, targeted, and temporary. The chamber network appreciates the many federal and provincial programs provided over this past year that thousands of struggling small businesses are currently accessing. However, the economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and access to support programs has been uneven, therefore, a targeted response to provision of support is necessary, and will remain so for some time, for those that have fallen through the cracks, continue to suffer and who need help. It is important that government understands that even as the health crisis subsides, the economic crisis will continue in some sectors.

On behalf of our network of chambers of commerce, today the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce is asking your governments to help further mitigate impacts to small business in Atlantic Canada and their potential closure by targeting and channeling financial support to those with special circumstances such as sole-proprietors and business start-ups.


Kind regards,


Sheri Somerville CEO, Atlantic Chamber of Commerce



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