Quebec manufacturing industry asking for financial help from blockades and COVID-19 effects

Two people talk at a rail blockade on the eleventh day of demonstration in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. The protest is in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Four days before the budget is tabled, the Quebec manufacturing industry is asking for help from the Legault government to offset the impacts caused by the rail blockades and those to come due to the new coronavirus outbreaks in the province.

Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec (MEQ) released survey results from its members on Friday, which showed that a majority of respondents claim to have lost between $20,000 and $50,000 per day of the blockade. About a quarter of respondents say they have absorbed the penalties imposed for late deliveries and 28 per cent say they have been forced to reduce their production, mainly due to delays in the delivery of raw materials.

Not surprisingly, almost nine out of 10 respondents want to benefit from a financial boost to mitigate the impact of the crisis.

The data centres mainly on the rail blockades, which is now over, but COVID-19 has started to curb imports of products and components required for manufacturing, especially those from Asia.

The MEQ is, therefore, urging Quebec to step up and support its members, not only with direct subsidies but also with a reduction in the payroll tax, although this request came from only a third of its members.

The demand to reduce the payroll tax, however, has been a constant demand of the business community for decades.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 6, 2020.