Businesses finding it difficult getting employees back to work

Thirty-seven per cent of small firms say they have concerns related to staffing (layoffs, retention, refusal to work) according to a new Canadian Federation of Independent Business survey.

As such, the business organization is applauding the government’s proposed changes to CERB to end benefits if a worker is offered their job back barring health-related issues, a move supported by 87 per cent of small business owners surveyed.

“We’re in a pivotal period in the COVID-19 emergency – many economies are reopening and Canadians are looking forward to getting a haircut, enjoying a patio or revisiting their favourite stores. However, despite the record unemployment numbers, many of these small business owners are now facing significant staffing challenges. While it’s too early to do away with CERB, it’s time to shift gears on the federal support programs to encourage people to rejoin the labour force,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly.

The latest weekly survey also found 48 per cent of business have laid off staff, 10 per cent of those permanently. Tweny-six percent have rehired some of their laid-off staff with 8 per cent hiring new workers.

Almost one third have applied for the government’s wage subsidy, with another 23 per cent in the process of applying. The majority (76%) who have received it say it has been helpful in addressing their challenges.

“CFIB was very pleased with the federal government’s decision to extend the wage subsidy for June, July and August in order to help businesses recover from the COVID-19 emergency. Most expect their costs to return much more quickly than their revenues,” Kelly said. “But it should be noted that we are already in the new June subsidy period and businesses do not know whether the rules have changed yet.”

The business organization called on the feds to lower the 30 per cent revenue drop test for CEWS to ensure more small firms can access the program and introducing a sliding scale, where firms would be able to qualify for a smaller wage subsidy with smaller revenue losses.

CFIB is calling for a 10 per cent wage subsidy for all businesses, with a subsidy of 25, 50 or 75 per cent based on revenue losses of 5, 10 or 15 per cent.

“We fully expect this to be a messy recovery requiring flexibility and understanding on everyone’s part,” Kelly said. “In order to get Canadians back to work, government needs to quickly announce its plans for CEWS changes as it puts additional guidance around the use of CERB.”

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