The economic recovery in Québec requires support of local media
The Emergency Assistance Program for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Enterprises (PAUPME), implemented in April 2020, aims to support, through loans of less than $50,000, the working capital of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) so that they are able to maintain, consolidate or restart their activities in the context of the pandemic. In order to support businesses that have to cease all or part of their activities, a new component was added to the PAUPME. The Assistance for Businesses in Regions on Maximum Alert (AERAM) component is intended for businesses benefiting from the PAUPME. It allows businesses subject to closure orders to obtain a loan forgiveness (non-repayable financial assistance) of up to 100% of eligible fixed costs, up to a maximum of $15,000 per month of closure (maximum of 80% of the loan amount granted under the PAUPME).
Méganne Perry Mélançon, MP for Gaspé and Parti Québécois critic for the economy and recovery, is asking the Minister of Economy and Innovation, Pierre Fitzgibbon, to include the purchase of advertising space in regional media in the list of eligible expenses for the calculation of the loan forgiveness under the AERAM component. The objective is to help both the media and SMEs for to make a strong recovery in all regions of Québec. Indeed, regional SMEs recovering from a third closure need all the levers available to return to profitability. Local media, especially print media, also suffered greatly during the pandemic.
AERAM is currently restricted to fixed costs; Ms Perry Mélançon is calling on the Minister of Economy to be flexible. "Mr. Fitzgibbon has championed and praised his AERAM program in every possible way. I am asking him today to adapt it to include, in the calculation of the forgivable portion, the advertising expenses made in local media. SMEs in all regions of Québec need their local media, and local media need healthy SMEs," she argued.
Regional SMEs recovering from a third closure need more than ever to publicize their promotions and products, as well as their job offers. However, their financial situation – often precarious or at least undermined – leaves little room for advertising purchases. "Let's kill two birds with one stone: support advertising placements in local and regional media," says Perry Mélançon.
Not surprisingly, as a result of the pandemic, advertising bookings and purchases have dropped dramatically, which has hit regional media hard. Many have survived thanks to government advertising investments, but SMEs in the regions must also be encouraged to resume placing ads. "No effort should be spared to safeguard a strong and healthy regional press. Not only are local media essential to relaying Public Health messages, but they are also essential vectors of economic recovery," noted the Parti Québécois MP.