The Canadian Press Published Monday, March 23, 2020 12:24 PM EDT
A woman smokes marijuana while celebrating the legalization of recreational cannabis, in Vancouver, on Wednesday October 17, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Darryl Dyck)
TORONTO -- Cannabis companies are calling on Ottawa to provide immediate help for the industry, hurt by the steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.
About 71 cannabis firms and organizations have written a letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains asking for their companies to get access to wage subsidies being made available to small businesses.
They are also asking to get access to funding through federal agencies, the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
They say the BDC has indicated that cannabis companies cannot access $10 billion in stimulus funding they have to offer, so the industry is seeking more equitable treatment.
Among the letter's signatories are Canopy Rivers Inc., WeedMD, Organigram Inc. and Fire and Flower Inc.
The cannabis industry had already experienced more than 2,000 job losses in the last six months and funding drying up, when COVID-19 hit, causing more layoffs and some pot retailers to close.