News Briefs – March 2, 2021

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

MP pooh-poohs Liberal decision

Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen is supporting his party’s stance opposing the expansion of Bill C-7 to include mental illness.
On Feb. 23, the Hon. Rob Moore, Conservative Shadow Minister for Justice and the Attorney General of Canada, issued the following statement.
“It has been a year since the Liberal Justice Minister tabled Bill C-7, the government’s medical assistance in dying [MAID] legislation. Now, at the last minute, the Liberals are accepting an amendment that would start a reckless countdown to expand MAID to those with mental illness.”
He adds the Liberal’s own Justice Department has said that expanding MAID “could be seen as undermining suicide prevention initiatives and normalizing death as a solution to many forms of suffering.”
Conservatives have introduced an amendment to remove the Liberal expansion of MAID to those with mental illness, so that a proper review can happen – one that should have happened last year.
The Conservatives have also gathered 129 letters from groups and organizations asking MPs to oppose Bill C-7.

$21 billion loss due to pandemic

Nearly eight in 10 Alberta small business owners have taken on debt due to COVID-19, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business [CFIB] in a new report released Feb. 25.
And, the Alberta average debt is reaching nearly $186,000 per business or $21 billion!
In total, small businesses in Canada now owe a collective $135 billion.
“Over the last six months, the average debt taken on by small businesses to deal with COVID-19 has grown significantly,” says Laura Jones, executive vice-president at CFIB.
“While many businesses had previously reopened and were attempting to regain lost sales, the second wave and the restrictions that came with it are putting a massive wrench in an already slow recovery for small businesses.”
Number reflect losses as of early February.
Of businesses that have taken on debt, 76 per cent say it will take them over a year to repay, with 11 per cent of the group expressing concern they may not be able to repay their COVID-19 related debt at all.

Alberta gov’t boosts borrowing limit

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen has good news for Alberta farmers.
The Agricultural Financial Services Corporation [AFSC] overall borrowing limit will increase to $3.6 billion from $2.8 billion by 2024 to make sure that Alberta farmers, ranchers and food production have reliable access to capital.
AFSC’s improved lending ability will help meet the government’s value-added investment attraction goal of $1.4 billion for agriculture and food production in Alberta over the next four years – with a target of 2,000 new agriculture jobs, says Dreeshen.
He adds since the targets were set last fall, the government has already achieved $527 million in new investment and created more than 981 new jobs in Alberta.
The individual lending limit increases to $30 from $15 million from AFSC. The increased limit will help to better support larger agriculture deals in the province.
AFSC offers lending support for food production through the Agribusiness Loan Program as well as loans for primary agriculture producers: the Next Generation Loan Program, Developing Producer Loan Program, Alberta Producer Loan Program, and the Revolving Loan Program.

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