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The crucial role of financial institutions in a crisis and their duty to entrepreneurs

Joint statement from the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec and the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal


Montréal, March 25, 2020 ‒ Over the past two weeks, our daily lives have been completely upended as we have scaled down our social While it has been raging elsewhere on the planet for some time, the COVID-19 crisis became part of our daily reality over a month ago. Since then, people’s routines have been disrupted, and sadly the negative impact will continue to be felt for some time, notably among businesses.


A number of them have managed, to the best of their abilities, to adapt their practices and continue their activities, in part through remote working and e-commerce. Other businesses have been forced to suspend their activities temporarily and even to close their doors, due to a lack of liquidity. 


Governments have announced necessary aid measures, within tight timeframes for the normally complex structures they are; they, too, have had to adapt their practices to this highly unusual context.


This is why ministers of the economy have pointed to the front-line role that banking services must play in supporting individuals and businesses that are facing serious liquidity challenges. A number of these institutions have heeded the call. They have had to adapt to the demands and consequences of the crisis and propose relief measures in a context that involves greater risk for them as well.


Reductions in credit card interest rates, a moratorium on loan principal repayments for several months, increased support to consumers and businesses, increases in lines of credit for short-term working capital: financial institutions have made a number of concrete efforts in the past few weeks. The recent cuts in the Bank of Canada’s key lending rate also helped reduce interest on loans.


When we broaden this ecosystem to include Investissement Québec, the Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, there are a number of options for getting through this crisis.


While new measures will likely be needed to respond to the requirements of certain specific clienteles as the situation evolves for businesses and SMEs, in particular start-ups and sectors in pre-commercialization, their efforts still deserve recognition.


Be flexible with agreements

Financial institutions have an important role to play in this crisis. They need to keep a close eye on debt levels, demonstrate flexibility and streamline terms for entrepreneurs during this period of uncertainty. It will be one of the requirements for fostering a meaningful economic recovery and enabling businesses to resume their pace of investment as soon as possible.


Businesses that are forced to think about their future have the duty to ask hard questions. Financial institutions must listen to the needs that are expressed to them, particularly by business clients, playing a pivotal role for the entrepreneurs they advise. That way they can help them regain their momentum when the time for recovery comes.


The financial services sector makes an undeniable contribution to the economy. Many companies have been able to pursue their activities thanks to many of their efforts, despite the absence of revenue and the sharp drop in cash flow to sustain their working capital, in part.


The efforts of financial institutions – which often go unnoticed – are decisive, both for entrepreneurs and for individuals. We applaud these institutions for the essential role they play in the current context. This is why we are confident that, like governments, they will continue to adapt their offer as their clients’ situation evolves, without putting their own activities at risk.


Charles Milliard
President and CEO
Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec

Michel Leblanc
President and CEO
Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

About the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM)

With a network of over 8,000 members, the CCMM is active on two fronts: being the voice of the Montréal business community and delivering specialized services to businesses and their representatives. With its finger on the pulse of current events, it acts on issues that are decisive for the prosperity of the city’s businesses. With the support of the Acclr experts, the CCMM’s goal is to accelerate the creation and growth of businesses of all sizes, at home and around the world.


About the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ)
With a vast network of 132 chambers of commerce and 1100 member businesses in Québec, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ) represents more than 50,000 businesses from all economic sectors and all regions of the province. As the most important network of business leaders and businesses in Québec, the FCCQ is a staunch defender of its members’ interests in public affairs issues, fostering an innovative and competitive business environment.


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Sources : 
Julie Serero
Conseillère, Relations médias 
Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain
Tél. : 514 871-4000, poste 4042

Facebook : 
Twitter : @chambremontreal
Pour poursuivre la discussion : #ccmm

Félix Rhéaume

Senior Director, Communications and External Relations

Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec

Tel: 514-912-2639

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