Photo Credit: CFIB

Anxious small businesses petition for immediate extension and expansion of federal business support programs


Tuesday, October 12, 2021 4:31:00 PM

The federal government will put an end to crucial wage and rent subsidies for small businesses in less than two weeks on October 23, despite increasing uncertainty around ongoing capacity restrictions, growing labour shortages, and an unpredictable fourth wave. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shared these concerns in a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland urging government to immediately extend and expand these programs that many small businesses continue to rely on.

"Businesses need certainty as so many are still dodging constant curveballs with a slow pick-up in revenues, labour shortages, and wariness around ongoing restrictions in the months ahead," said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President of National Affairs at CFIB. "No business owner expects government support forever, but they need to know they have something to rely on until all restrictions are lifted, and they can fully operate their business once again. They can't afford for the government to dawdle until the last minute."

CFIB's latest Small Business Recovery Dashboard shows that only 40 per cent of small businesses are making normal sales and less than half are fully staffed. Last month's Business Barometer showed the largest decreases in short- and long-term small business optimism since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

To continue supporting small businesses, CFIB is urging the federal government to:

- Immediately announce an extension to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) to November 20th.
- Work with members of parliament to further extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program, CEWS and CERS, to March 31, 2022.
- Return the maximum wage and rent subsidies to 75% for all sectors of the economy, as promised to the tourism sector by the Liberal party during the election.
- Include new businesses that started after the pandemic began in all business support programs.
- Offer additional funding through the CEBA loan and delay the repayment deadline to the end of 2024.
- Change the Canada Recovery Benefit to ensure it does not incentivize workers to stay at home rather than returning to the labour force.
- Dedicate the $1 billion in funding to provincial governments to implement passport systems to small business owners required to implement these systems.

"The end of the pandemic may be in sight for some, but business owners are just not there yet. Small businesses will take an average of two years to recover from the pandemic. Pulling support at such a critical moment in their recovery would be a huge misstep," concluded Pohlmann.

Small business owners can sign CFIB's petition at cfib.ca/covidpetition calling on the government to extend the federal support programs and support small business recovery.

SOURCE: Canadian Federation of Independent Business