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The window is starting to close on the federal government’s crucial small business support programs, despite only 35 per cent of businesses being back to normal sales

62%of business owners have sales well below normal levels

TORONTO, July 22, 2021 – A small business petition campaign is urging the federal government to halt phase out of wage and rent subsidies. The window is starting to close on the federal government’s crucial small business support programs, despite only 35 per cent of businesses being back to normal sales, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). In addition to closing the critical Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program last month, the government has already started the phasing out of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). CFIB has launched a petition to halt these reductions.

The CFIB petition says “When the pandemic ends, it won’t be “business as usual” right away. After leading the charge to create and improve Canada’s major COVID-19 support programs, CFIB is now calling on the government to make sure relief isn’t cut off too quickly. The economic recovery will take time; government support needs to reflect that.”

While the end of the pandemic is in sight, its effects are going to linger for small businesses like mine for years to come.

Even as restrictions are lifted, it will take a long time for businesses to get back to pre-pandemic sales and staffing levels, making it hard to pay down all the debt we’ve had to incur just to stay alive.

The petition urges government to help get the Canadian economy moving again by:

  • Extending all programs and keep all subsidies at current levels until the entire economy can reopen (including our borders) and all small businesses can once again serve customers in person.
  • Helping small businesses with debt relief by:
    • Increasing the forgivable portion of CEBA to 50% of the amount received and allowing longer repayment terms past December 2022. 
    • Making part of the HASCAP loan forgivable and changing the month-by-month revenue drop test to an average drop of 50%.
  • Fixing gaps in emergency relief programs by:
    • Making rent paid between non-arm’s length entities eligible for the rent subsidy (CERS), following an approach similar to that of the former rent assistance program (CECRA) and changing the requirement to pay the full rent amount within 60 days following receipt of the subsidy.
    • Simplifying the wage subsidy (CEWS) and ensure business owners and their family members working in the business can have some of their dividend income covered.
    • Immediately allowing new businesses to access CEWS, CERS, CEBA and HASCAP.

“Small business owners are keen to replace subsidies with sales, but with only a third of business owners back to normal levels of sales, it is just way too soon to phase out the wage and rent subsidies. The government has already started to aggressively cut these important supports just as many are in the process of reopening their doors or facing ongoing capacity restrictions.”

CFIB President Dan Kelly

CFIB is hearing from many business owners, including tour operators, travel agents, events, arts and entertainments businesses, reporting they will not see their business revenues return until 2022.

CFIB is calling on the federal government to keep the subsidy programs at their June subsidy levels and extend them until the economy is fully open before the next planned decrease. CFIB is encouraging business owners to sign the petition or contact their MPs before August 1st (when applications for the July period open) and urge them to:

  • Extend CEWS and CERS until November (at minimum)
  • Maintain CEWS and CERS rates at June levels
  • Ensure all independent businesses, including new firms, have access to these supports


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