Mahone Bay business a backdrop for Ottawa’s promotion of pandemic aid programs

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>FACEBOOK/BERNADETTE JORDAN</p><p>Don Sheehan of Amos Pewter and local MP Bernadette Jordan talk about federal aid during a news conference July 2 in Mahone Bay.</p>

The Trudeau government's cabinet representative in Nova Scotia travelled to a frequent past recipient of national government assistance to talk about federal aid measures in the current COVID-19 climate.

South Shore-St. Margaret's MP and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan visited Amos Pewter in Mahone Bay to talk about the Liberal government's "plan to help Canadians."

Amos Pewter, a landmark designer and hand-crafter of gifts and keepsakes made of the metal alloy, has grown over the years to establish storefronts in three other areas beyond the small Lunenburg County town.

Jordan said no amount of success could have prepared the business for the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. The company laid-off most of its staff.

Ottawa established the $2,000-a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit, in addition to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, as stop-gap pandemic aid packages to see workers and employers through the crisis.

"Employers wanted to keep their staff on payroll not only to help support their employees but to be ready to bounce back as soon as the pandemic was over," Jordan said in remarks live-streamed on the internet from outside Amos Pewter's Main Street shop.

The business was able to hire some students and re-hire more than half of his workforce, thanks to the aid packages.

Don Sheehan, owner of the business, said the subsidies proved to be a valuable safety net.

"We were relieved when these programs were first announced," he said, "and even more so when they were extended."

Amos Pewter received a pair of contributions from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) in 2012, including a repayable $109,875 to undertake marketing activities, and $50,000 grant toward developing a marketing strategy and expand customer access. More repayable ACOA money went its way in 2008 ($104,213) and 2006 ($124,404), cash spent on marketing and new product development.

The company also tapped into the federal government's Canada Summer Jobs program in 2019 and 2018.

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