Canada’s tourism sector needs urgent support, say Greens

OTTAWA – The Green Party of Canada is urging the federal government to provide specific support for Canada's tourism sector, which has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Border and travel restrictions, physical distancing and the seasonal nature of the tourism industry will all have a negative impact on the sector for months, perhaps years. Along with large corporations, thousands of small family businesses from coast to coast to coast may never recover.

“It’s essential that we provide sustainable support that is specifically targeted to the tourism industry,” said Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) was a welcome step during this crisis. However, as the provinces slowly begin to open up, it's highly unlikely that the tourism industry will be able to recover any time soon. People may be more cautious about travelling due to concerns about COVID-19. We need long-term assurances for the tourism sector that will enable them to survive through the winter and have the support needed to succeed next spring and summer.

“As it stands now, CEWS is still not adequate for many businesses to re-hire their employees. Expanding the program until the end of August is a positive step but it’s not enough. Some of the organizations in my constituency want CEWS to be extended for 18 months. After payroll and taxes the program is simply not enough to support a company with competitive salaries. We must do more to avoid one of Canada’s most important industries being decimated. Small businesses are the engine of our economy and they need more help.”

The tourism sector employs about 1.8 million Canadians and contributed about $34 billion to Canada’s GDP in the first nine months of 2018. The sector has also seen a shift towards sustainable tourism in recent years. 

“Ensuring that the tourism sector is well-equipped to bounce back as we move into the recovery phase from this crisis is vital to Canada's economy,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “We will also need to provide support to municipalities since they too are affected by loss of municipal tax revenues. It’s all connected. When the tourism sector suffers, that impacts the whole community.”

Ms. Roberts points out that businesses will have to maintain public health requirements and physical distancing measures adding an extra financial burden. 

“Tourism stimulates our economy, provides jobs, encourages interprovincial cooperation, improves Canada’s reputation on the world stage and educates Canadians and visitors about our heritage,” said Ms. Roberts. “In every province and territory of this great country the tourism sector sustains thousands of Canadians and we must ensure that they can survive, and thrive again.”

# # #

For more information or to arrange an interview: 

Rosie Emery

Press Secretary

613-562-4916 ext, 204