Open Letter to Premier Iain Rankin

May 20/21
Open Letter to Premier Iain Rankin


May 20, 2021 

The Hon. Iain Rankin
Premier of Nova Scotia
Office of the Premier
7th Floor, One Government Place
1700 Granville Street
Halifax, NS  B3J 1X5

Dear Premier Rankin:

We are writing to you today representing over 4,000 downtown and main street businesses from across Nova Scotia. We are at a critical stage in our fight against COVID-19. We require your immediate attention and assistance so that our members can persevere in these next months and, very importantly, can both see and plan for their place in a prosperous post-pandemic Nova Scotia. 

Main street small businesses continue to bear the brunt of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions which are needed to maintain public safety. In this third wave, our members have been especially hard hit and very vocal that the Small Business Impact Grant Part 3 is insufficient to substantially help them. We understand that this message is being clearly heard, and adjustments to the grant amount are under consideration. We appreciate adjustments that were made to the Small Business Real Property Tax Rebate program, to include businesses impacted by the third wave. Further short-term assistance is urgently needed to sustain businesses at this late stage. 

While we proceed with vaccinations and begin to look forward, it is absolutely imperative for our members that, with haste, the Nova Scotia government produce and make public an economic recovery plan which focuses on supporting and relaunching businesses in our most severely impacted sectors. This will enable each business to plan properly for the future and contribute meaningfully to our collective economic recovery.   

A critical first step is to establish a timeline for reopening the economy based on Nova Scotia Public Health guidance respecting epidemiology and vaccine uptake. We note that other jurisdictions, both in Canada and abroad, already have in place similar timelines and more are being made public each day.  

Merely knowing how and when we can re-open our economy is, however, not enough. A timeline needs to be accompanied by a coordinated series of programs, which includes building back consumer confidence so that our badly diminished main streets and downtowns can once again be thriving centers of business and social activity. This will require developing targeted objectives and corresponding programs that are adequately funded for each phase of re-opening. The business community stands ready to assist in this. 

In summary, our small businesses are calling for the Government of Nova Scotia to:

  1. Increase and extend the Small Business Impact Grant Part 3.
  2. Share a timeline of loosening restrictions that are tied to health benchmarks.
  3. Create programs focused on recovery for our downtowns and main streets. 

Without these measures, our downtowns and main streets will look very different when we reach the end of the pandemic. More businesses will close, and our communities will feel this loss. People who work in these businesses will lose their jobs. Through these past 14 months small businesses have been on the front lines in Nova Scotia, demonstrating steadfast commitment to public safety and their communities. Let us now show small business that their government has their back – that we are all in this together, and that we will all get out of this together.

Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission
Downtown Halifax Business Commission
Downtown Truro Partnership
Kentville Business Community
North End Business Association
Porters Lake Business Association
Quinpool Road Mainstreet District Association
Sackville Business Association
Spring Garden Area Business Association
Spryfield Business Commission
Sydney Downtown Development Association
The Village On Main – Community Improvement District

The Hon. Labi Kousoulis, Minister of the Department of Inclusive Economic Growth
The Hon. Zach Churchill, Minister of the Department of Health and Wellness
Scott Farmer, Deputy Minister of the Department of Inclusive Economic Growth
Bernie Miller, Deputy Minister of the Office of Strategy Management