The federal government needs to quickly get more funding in place for small and medium-sized businesses to ensure their survival after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

“We have to ensure that people have what they need either to keep going now or have the hope they need to have the desire, and will, and financing to be able to reopen when we get to the other side of this mountain,” Nenshi said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman Wednesday.

While the Calgary mayor applauded the federal government’s work in providing financial aid for individuals, he said it’s time they placed the spotlight on small to medium-sized businesses.

“It’s very bad. Seventy-to-80-per-cent of all employment in this economy across Canada is small and medium-sized enterprises,” Nenshi said.

“[In Calgary] we’ve essentially shut down the hospitality and travel sector. The energy sector is having some troubles, and we’re seeing a lot of folks who just can’t work from home.”

Over the past month, Ottawa has been working to find ways to help support employers impacted by the COVID-19 across Canada.

In Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s latest address Wednesday, he outlined new changes to the federal wage-subsidy program for employers impacted from the virus.

Trudeau said rather than requiring firms to report a 30-per-cent decline in revenue, businesses can show a 15-per-cent decline in March, and compare the revenue to previous months rather than to the previous year.

In the interview, Nenshi added that while many businesses are struggling in the current environment, the pandemic is starting an overdue conversation about the state of the workforce in Canada.

“In reality, people who make the economy work are people the people who clean our offices, the people who work in the warehouses and the factories, and the truck drivers and the retail clerks,” he said. “And remember, the single most common occupation for men in Canada is driver, the single most common occupation for women in Canada is retail associate.”

“I think that we have led ourselves over the last several years, fooled ourselves into thinking the economy is something about moving numbers around, when it’s actually about getting people the goods and services they need. And those are the people still working, but the people in the affiliated industries are at a lot of risk.”