Chamber Raises Concerns Over Businesses Ability to Survive

March 26, 2020

Cornwall Ontario – The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce is sounding the warning bell about the ability of many local businesses to weather the economic impacts of public efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Chamber

Over the past number of weeks, many businesses have been forced to close their doors to the public in order to comply with government orders to reduce public interaction. In a recent survey of Cornwall businesses, the Chamber discovered that most companies will struggle to survive the pandemic. The survey had some alarming statistics: 42% of local businesses will struggle to survive until the end of April, with a further 30% unable to survive for three months.

The Chamber recognizes that the Business Development Corporation (BDC) and the Cornwall and Counties Community Futures Development Corporation are working hard to support as many businesses and that dozens of local businesses will be recipients of loans. It notes that the Federal Wage Subsidy will provide minimal support to businesses and only help those that are still in operation.

“With the Prime Minister saying that COVID-19 restrictions could be in place for months, much more will need to be done to support businesses,” says Greg Pietersma, Executive Director of the Chamber. “Debt is not the answer for all businesses. Some are operating with substantively reduced revenue and need support to keep people employed. Many others cannot work and need assistance to pay for continued expenses without taking on debt.”

Sole proprietors and partnerships need support as well and have difficulty accessing help from the available programs.

To address the above needs, the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce is making the following recommendations:

  • Provide small & medium businesses with a choice of taking a wage subsidy of at least 75% or a rebate of GST remittances submitted in the last six months.
  • Sole proprietors and partners should be offered monthly payments based on their previous years’ income tax assessment.

These initiatives, along with the existing loan programs, would add thousands of businesses to the list of those that would qualify for support and help the 72% of the companies that will struggle to survive until June.

The Chamber has been fielding dozens of calls from worried business owners since the crisis began and has been providing regular information updates via the Chamber website and Facebook page.

About the Chamber of Commerce

The Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce is the unified voice of the region’s business community speaking towards growth, leadership and innovation. With direction from the elected board of directors, the Chamber looks to continuously progress the community through political advocacy, knowledge-based development and innovative opportunities.

The Chamber has close to 700 members.  For more information, please click on the following links:



We summarize the latest news about the impacts of COVID-19 on Cornwall businesses on a daily basis. Click on the following link to view:


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