After small local distilleries produced tens of thousands of litres of hand sanitizer for free for months during the pandemic, the Liberal government thanked them by turning around and giving paid contracts to large companies like Fluid Energy Group and Irving Oil. New Democrats are calling on the government to acknowledge the invaluable contribution made by these small, local businesses with more financial support.

“For months, distilleries across the country dropped everything and started producing hand sanitizer to help people stay safe and stop the spread of the virus in their communities. Hand sanitizer was in such high demand and, in most places, it was almost impossible to get. These businesses stepped up and helped out even though this meant they weren’t making the products they got paid to make,” said NDP Critic for Small business, Gord Johns (Courtenay—Alberni). “After small businesses did this at a financial loss, it’s really a slap in the face that this government then paid huge companies to do the work they’d been doing for free.”

“So many industrious businesses on the Island stepped up and did their part to help out their neighbours and community. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we all do better when we take care of each other,” said NDP MP Rachel Blaney (North Island—Powell River). “It’s incredibly disappointing to see that the government doesn’t have small businesses’ backs the way that they should.”

Shelter Point Distillery in Oyster River, Wayward Distillery in Courtenay and Ampersand Distilling and Stillhead Distillery in the Cowichan Valley are among those across the country that produced tens of thousands of litres of hand sanitizer during the first wave of the pandemic despite having to close their doors to the public and losing their source of income. New Democrats have been advocating for increased supports to small businesses since the beginning of the pandemic, including backdating the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) to April 1st.

“For many local business owners this is just another example of how the Liberals have let them down during the pandemic.  New Democrats have been fighting the government to increase commercial rent support and the wage subsidy so that these small businesses can make it through the pandemic,” said NDP MP Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan—Malahat—Langford). “These businesses stepped up when people in our communities needed help. Instead of making deals with big business, the government should be there to support them now.”

Lucas Schuller

Constituency Assistant, Rachel Blaney, MP