Chrystia Freeland will spend billions to fight COVID-19. This Toronto bar owner says he wants more than money

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Until everyone is vaccinated, the best thing governments could do for tavern owner Harrison Mazis is to give him some clarification.

Even as Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland prepares to roll out more aid to businesses in her mini-budget on Monday, and points to a massive multibillion-dollar package of claw-back money on the horizon, which Mazis says he most needs common understanding these days between government officials and authorities.

Duffy’s Tavern has been held in the same location near Bloor and Dufferin for 70 years, one of the oldest licensed establishments in town. But he’s barely standing right now, going through his second lockdown of the year and facing a bleak winter.

When Mazis recently heard the city’s mayor talk about giving restaurants and bars wiggle room to go out, invest in patios and think differently about business, he did it. He had boards and a tent structure installed along the side of his building, creating an outdoor dining area for his loyal local clientele. Now, in addition to having no clients, he faces a stack of municipal offenses amounting to thousands of dollars in fines.

Freeland’s tax update on Monday will include more help for people like Mazis and other small business owners involved in hard-hit sectors of the economy, such as air travel, tourism, accommodation and catering services (but not yet a full airline bailout, for those who follow home).

It will also contain a range of estimates of the size of the stimulus package that the federal government says will be needed to emerge from the recession, putting Canada in the same position as other developed countries hoping to revive their economies. And it will set some initial parameters for how it will be spent – while committing to extensive public consultations between now and the federal budget in the spring.

But when Mazis jumped on a constituency-wide “Ask Me Anything” Zoom call earlier this week with his MP Julie Dzerowicz, he didn’t ask for any money. He asked for consistency – a helping hand to get through three levels of government trying, with an abundance of rules and money, to stop the virus and prevent the economy from collapsing.

“We are trying to do the right thing,” Mazis said afterwards in an interview. “We’re tired, we’re frustrated, we’re going bankrupt, but we don’t know what to do. We are given a different set of regulations every two days. “

At the federal level, there are piles of money – hundreds of billions of dollars in grants, programs, credits, and incentives for businesses and individuals. The Ottawa Economic Response website features 18 programs for individuals, 28 programs for businesses, 34 sector supports, 11 programs for vulnerable groups and six money transfer plans to the provinces.

Monday’s mini-budget will deliver more – not only for businesses struggling to overcome the constraints of COVID-19, but also for broader pandemic challenges such as child care, vaccination efforts, long-term care duration and obtaining of personal protective equipment.

All of this, of course, adds up to a crippling deficit that economists say will exceed $ 400 billion this fiscal year. It will need to be reduced quickly to be manageable, which means COVID-19 support will have to end by next summer, and stimulus spending will need to focus on economic growth, which in turn will replenish government revenues. .

But the recovery will also face more than just growth. Freeland is adamant that it is addressing some of the underlying inequalities exposed by the pandemic. Women in the workforce, visible minorities and construction workers have been criticized. She is also aware of the government’s commitment to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions and will likely have measures on hand Monday for home renovations and workforce retraining.

This is a massive world-class response to a recession that has proven unpredictable as to who hurts and how much, leading to a complicated and sometimes self-defeating bureaucratic network.

Money for individuals was confusing when the pandemic began, when EI turned into the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and now. It’s easier now, but the next few months will bring their own level of confusion as recipients try to sort out what they owe or owe at tax time, says Jennifer Robson of Carleton University, associate professor of political management. which followed the fine. details of pandemic income support.

Dzerowicz and his staff frequently help voters track down forms, find the right programs, and deal on their behalf with multiple levels of government so that conflicts are eliminated and money can flow to the right people.

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This job will not be easier with Monday’s tax package. While the money is there in abundance, so too is the virus, as are all attempts by different governments to control the two.

Getting through the pandemic to the other side of the pandemic will be costly and difficult for all parties involved, especially Mazis. This vaccine cannot come soon enough.

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