The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomes today’s news that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) have been extended to June 5 at current levels, including the 25 per cent additional lockdown support. It is also good news that businesses will be able to calculate their revenue losses against similar months in 2019, rather than 2020. This gives businesses some level of certainty for the coming months in knowing how much support they may be able to access as they make business decisions amid continued restrictions. CFIB called on government to announce the details of this important extension and appreciates that Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has responded today.
But far too many businesses still struggle to access critical government support, even one year after the pandemic started. CFIB is urging government to make further fixes to all of its support programs:
- Commit to extending wage and rent subsidies for as long as restrictions are in place. Governments cannot end support until they can tell Canadians to return to office work, dining, recreation and travel, including open borders.
- Allow new businesses (those started in March of 2020 or later) to access federal support programs. The Prime Minister promised to fix this problem on May 19, 2020.
- Do more to aggressively promote CERS. Compared to the other federal support programs, very few businesses (26 per cent) have accessed CERS. Some business owners are not aware the rent subsidy program has been changed and no longer requires landlord participation.
- Increase CERS eligibility to include non-arms’ length entities (e.g. renting from a relative) and remove the requirement to pay the full rent in order to receive a subsidy.
- Extend the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) application beyond March 31 so more businesses can apply.
- Accelerate the applications for the thousands of businesses who are still waiting to have their applications to the additional $20,000 CEBA loan reviewed as a result of technical issues.
Last month, CFIB revealed that one in six business owners is at risk of permanent closure, putting 2.4 million Canadian jobs in jeopardy. Today’s announcement gives those business owners a lifeline, but more needs to be done to help small businesses bridge to better times.
– Dan Kelly, President
– Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President
– Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President of National Affairs