Alberta Senator Doug Black commends the Trudeau government’s support to citizens during the pandemic, but slams its lack of assistance to businesses.
“I don’t think this was an accident. I believe the government decided they were not going to support business, they were going to support citizens. I get the concept.
“Unfortunately, at some point in time, if businesses don’t survive, there are not jobs,” said Black, who was contacting business, education and community organizations in Red Deer on Thursday.
“I need to give credit where credit is due. I believe the federal government has responded strongly and effectively, generously and appropriately, to the problems people are facing.”
He expected the bill authorizing new benefits to workers impacted by COVID-19 to be passed by the Senate quickly, so there will be no gaps in support.
“But after these benefits end, people need jobs, and jobs come from businesses that continue to operate.”
He said government programs to support commercial tenants, or the energy industry, or big companies, are not working.
On Thursday, Black spoke with Mayor Tara Veer, and representatives of the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce, Red Deer College, Central Alberta Economic Partnership, Red Deer Arts Council and others about the challenges they face.
He said one issue was the need for better broadband internet service in central Alberta.
“You can’t run a business, you can’t get educated, you can’t maintain your job without reliable service. It’s an essential service, and we need to get real serious about this real fast in terms of our economic recovery.”
He said the federal government is finally moving forward with a system to allow senators to attend the Senate online if they can’t be there in person. The system should be in place this month.
But Black is still waiting for the federal government to create a national pandemic recovery council.
“We all know at some point, we’re going to have this under control. You need a road map if you’re going anywhere. The government has not done that.”
He said organizations, from hospitals to school jurisdictions, have created recovery plans. Throughout the pandemic, Red Deer agencies and citizens have worked together to make sure people don’t fall through the cracks, said Black.
“People are rowing together, and I think it’s very important, because Red Deer matters in Alberta, very much so.”