Retail Council of Canada (RCC) presented to the House of Commons Finance Committee today on the broad challenges retailers of all sizes face in their capacity to pay rent in a timely manner as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We remain very appreciative of the effort that the federal government has put into the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy programs to provide income safeguards for Canadians and to help avert many layoffs. But the reality is, that with limited or no income from operations, retailers can’t keep going simply by receiving generous assistance to pay employees.
Simply put, retailers with severely reduced revenues have no ability to pay their rent. Not only does this jeopardize their connection to the very stores they need in order to remain viable, it endangers many of the million and a half jobs in the discretionary retail sector (ranging from apparel, to furniture and appliances, electronics, toys, books to name but a few).
That is why RCC urges the federal government to move forward with a broader relief program for retailers of varying sizes to cope with rental challenges. We believe it’s critical that the government offer a purpose-built loan program that affords retailers of all sizes the ability to get to the other side of this crisis.
At some point, we are all going to come out on the other side of this pandemic. When we do, our retail members, who represent over 45,000 independent, regional and national retail establishments, will be core to operationalizing economic recovery across Canada. Collaboration with all governments on support and relief measures to support our efforts will be key.
Diane Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail Council of Canada
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About Retail Council of Canada
Retail is Canada’s largest employer with 2.1 million Canadians working in our industry. The sector annually generates over $76 billion in wages and employee benefits. Core retail sales (excluding vehicles and gasoline) were $377 billion in 2018. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two thirds of retail sales in the country. RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association that represents small, medium and large retail businesses in every community across the country. As the Voice of Retail™ in Canada, we proudly represent more than 45,000 storefronts in all retail formats, including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers and online merchants. www.RetailCouncil.org