PEI

Federal wage subsidy extension 'encouraging' for P.E.I. tourism operator

The Murphy Hospitality Group says the federal government's extension of the Canada emergency wage subsidy (CEWS) program is welcome news.

'It's a sigh of a little relief from operators that have had a very difficult time this summer'

The federal government announced it will be extending the Canada emergency wage subsidy program during the throne speech in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Murphy Hospitality Group says the federal government's extension of the Canada emergency wage subsidy (CEWS) program is welcome news.

The announcement was made during the throne speech on Wednesday.

"When you highlight the wage subsidy program and other funds for the tourism and hospitality industry, it's encouraging," said Kevin Murphy, president and CEO of Murphy Hospitality Group. 

"It's a sigh of a little relief from operators that have had a very difficult time this summer."

CEWS was launched back in May to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 rehire employees and provide them with income by covering up to 75 per cent of their wages. 

'They’ve been listening to operators and looking at the shortcomings and people who have fallen through the cracks,' says Kevin Murphy, president and CEO of Murphy Hospitality Group. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The program was supposed to come to an end in December but, as of Wednesday, has been extended until summer 2021. 

The Murphy Hospitality Group currently manages restaurants and hotels across the Maritimes and Murphy said he is "very pleased" the hospitality and tourism industry was acknowledged in the speech. 

"They recognize that the hotels, airlines, restaurants, amusement parks, transportation — all these businesses that make up what we have, have been addressed and kind of included in some messaging through the throne speech," he said.

"So that is encouraging."

'Key for our recovery'

Penny Walsh-McGuire, CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, said she was also fairly optimistic about what the news meant for Island businesses.

Penny Walsh-McGuire, CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, says the extension of CEWS helps businesses retain employees. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"The devastating blow that the pandemic had and delivered to our tourism industry, some of our retailers and other particular industries that supply those sectors, you know, it was really key to help bridge this difficult time and keep employees in place," she said.

"We know how challenging it is to find and recruit your workforce, your employees, and so keeping them in place and helping to support that financially is key for our recovery and future growth."

Premier Dennis King echoed that opinion in a news release issued Thursday.

"I have been advocating for supports that will help Islanders navigate these challenging times, and I am pleased to see reference to these issues," he said. 

"These supports will help communities, businesses, and everyday Islanders in the months ahead."

Climate change, racism and child care

On top of extending CEWS, the speech also underlined the need to address systemic racism in Canada, fight climate change and a possible investment in early learning and child care. 

"For the past number of years, we have led the country when it comes to early childhood and child care," said King in the release. 

"I look forward to working with the federal government on a national early learning and child-care system, to enhance what already exists in our province and further support young families on Prince Edward Island." 

Overall, King said the speech "shows that the federal government is willing to continue to invest in and support Canadians at a time when there is so much uncertainty ahead."

Murphy said heading into winter, it's good to know people are listening to their concerns. 

"In any tourism destination like P.E.I., those are the months when it's pretty bleak, so this is welcoming news."

More from CBC P.E.I.

 

With files from Angela Walker

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