03/23/2020 14:00 EDT

Canadian Cannabis Firms Ask For Help After Thousands Of Jobs Lost

Companies are asking for access to the financial support being offered to small businesses.

In this file photo, members of the media gather at a Montreal cannabis store a day before legalization on Oct. 17, 2018.

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.

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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.