The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is relieved that some broad-based business supports will remain in place following the federal announcement last week on wage and rent subsidies for businesses affected by COVID-19, but concerned that the eligibility rules and thresholds will put them out of reach for many.
Restaurants and tourism businesses will need to see a revenue drop of 40 per cent and all other businesses a 50 per cent drop in order to access these critical programs. This means small businesses that see revenues lower by one-third will not be able to access the previous wage and rent subsidies – potentially signing them up to lose money every single day they are open and putting them at risk of permanent closure.
CFIB will be pushing the federal government to be flexible in how it defines businesses in the tourism, restaurant and hospitality sectors for its targeted programs. Gyms, recreation facilities like bowling alleys, dance studios, drycleaners all continue to suffer massive COVID-related losses but may be ineligible for the higher levels of support.
New businesses that started after March 2020 must be included in any new government support programs if they meet the eligibility criteria. As it stands, they have not been able to access any of the government support programs, despite facing the same challenges and restrictions as other businesses.
The extension of the Canada Recovery Hiring Program to May 2022 and its return to 50 per cent is more welcome news for small businesses that are in a position to hire back staff. CFIB is also pleased that the government is pivoting to supporting workers affected by lockdowns, as many businesses are facing a major labour shortage, which is throttling their recovery. The new support program for businesses facing local lockdowns will also restore some much needed certainty for businesses heading into the winter months.
CFIB appreciates that the government has shown willingness to listen to the needs of small business owners and is counting on the Deputy Prime Minister to make important changes to ensure the programs will continue to do their job.
–Dan Kelly, President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)