Barrie business leader hoping for increased support in federal budget
BARRIE, ONT. -- The head of Barrie's Chamber of Commerce says that he's looking for a focus on three key priorities in Monday's federal budget after a challenging year.
After a challenging year for small businesses, Paul Markle said he's hoping the federal budget, which is the first in over two years due to the pandemic, focuses on resilience, growth and modernization. With many struggling during the pandemic, he said increased resources for mental health support are needed.
"From a resilience standpoint, this has been devastating for people," said Markle. "We're into this last lockdown in Ontario; it's not good for anyone. It's very unfair, it's very disturbing for small businesses, you can see the amount of anguish that's happening within our city, and there's really not a lot a lot that anyone can do about it."
Markle, who recently was named the permanent executive director of the Barrie Chamber of Commerce after serving in the role on an interim basis for the last year, would also like to see optimized testing and increased access to therapeutics for the treatment of COVID-19.
After a slow rollout of the vaccines, Markle said he's hopeful there's an improved procurement of vaccines across the country. While he acknowledged many are struggling, he said there are promising signs in the economy.
"It is encouraging to see that regardless of the fact that we're in a pandemic, manufacturing continues to show strong growth," Markle says. "Most sectors, to be honest with you, haven't fared as poorly as people would assume or think."
Markle said he was mostly pleased with the provincial budget, which was released earlier this year. He's hopeful that the federal government can provide support in areas that were neglected by the province.
"We thought the provincial budget was certainly a little light on broadband, and those are all things that are needed in order to grow, so additional transfer payments into the provinces that can then be moved down into municipalities is hopefully going to be what fills some of those gaps."
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will rise in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon to present the budget.