Ottawa tech CEOs sign open letter to Premier Ford asking for COVID-19 support

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You.i TV CEO Jason Flick is among the signatories of an open letter to the Ontario government asking the province to support the tech sector.
Editor's Note

This story was updated with new measures announced Friday from the federal government.

Ottawa tech CEOs are joining their counterparts across the province in calling on the Ontario government for immediate relief to maintain the sectors’ operations through the COVID-19 disruptions.

In an open letter addressed to Premier Doug Ford and Ontario’s ministers of finance and economic development, the province’s tech executives outline their argument for emergency measures to stabilize the sector. Their points are both economic, in terms of the substantial levels of tech employment in areas such as Ottawa and the GTA, as well as practical, referencing the work Ontario’s tech firms are doing on vaccines and other responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ottawa-based executives among the more than 230 signatories on the letter include You.i TV’s Jason Flick, Tehama’s Paul Vallée, Welbi’s Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau and Erin Kelly of Advanced Symbolics. The letter is also backed by Invest Ottawa and Ontario’s other regional economic development agencies.

The province’s tech community is asking the government for payroll subsidies and tax deferments, increased flexibility in access to grant programs and more rapid deployment of financial support through established funding channels. The full list of requests is posted below.

Ontario executives can add their names to the letter here.

Tech CEOs believe the Ontario government can best support their companies by:

  • Offering generous payroll subsidies – at least 70 per cent of wages – similar to subsidies already offered in England and Denmark. (The federal government announced later in the day on Friday that it would support qualifying small businesses with wage subsidies of 75 per cent.)
  • Deferring payroll taxes and deferring remittance of corporate and payroll taxes together with no-interest, deferred-payment loan vehicles for businesses
  • Allowing the deferral of WSIB premiums
  • Increasing procurement of goods and services from Ontario ventures and requiring recipients of stimulus funding to prioritize the adoption of made-in-Ontario innovations
  • Implementing measures for rent abatement and interest-free credit availability, including the creation of a no-interest, deferred-payment loan vehicle for businesses
  • Rapidly deploying additional funding to current recipients that can demonstrate proven track records for delivery, enabling them to immediately address cash-flow challenges
  • Building our strong pipeline of high-growth firms by continuing to invest in promising startups through the MaRS IAF, and providing additional support to later-stage firms
  • Creating more flexible funding terms, conditions and schedules for companies that currently benefit from government funding and the network of Regional Innovation Centres that support them, enabling companies to address key challenges and adapt to rapidly changing market conditions
  • Retaining the Ontario Innovation Tax Credit (OITC) and the Ontario Research and Development Tax Credit (ORDTC), and working with the federal government to accelerate reimbursement through SR&ED, OITC and ORDTC.