WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government will be helping to promote the province’s small businesses, non-profits and charities to connect them with federal support programs.

Speaking Monday, Premier Brian Pallister said the promotion will be through outreach, intake, question-and-answer facilitation, by working with professional groups and businesses associations in “an effort to coordinate the registration, even going as far as to assist in the preparation of the applications themselves.”

“We do this all to get ready to reopen, to get ready to re-hire, to get ready to rebound, to get ready for recovery, as part of our Manitoba Protection Plan,” he said.

The premier highlighted two initiatives in particular: the 75 per cent wage subsidy and the Canada Emergency Businesses Account. He estimated that about 65,000 businesses in the province are eligible for federal support programs.

“We want to position our small businesses in a way that allows them to bounce back from this economic crisis,” he said.

Pallister noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses are facing new pressures.

“Some of these businesses have been forced to scale back their operations, some of them have been forced to lay off employees or reduce hours or even close their doors for the time being.”


The province issued a request for proposals for organizations to operate a call centre to help inform and guide stakeholders. The contract was awarded to Winnipeg-based 24-7 Intouch.

The Manitoba government is working with the organization to get this service ready in the coming days. The call centre will have strict privacy protocols, and will offer bilingual service with the capacity to offer help in other languages as well.

It will also have a two-stream process to identify businesses and stakeholders that have been affected by the pandemic in order to offer help, and answer calls and questions.

The province noted that outbound calls won’t ask for any confidential information. Their purpose is to inform about the services and encourage people to use the inbound line.

Information on the call centre phone number and hours of operation will be available in the coming days.

“The key to stronger healthcare is a stronger Manitoba economy, we don’t have that right now,” the premier said. “The key to a stronger Manitoba economy is, of course, small businesses.”