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COVID-19: how we’re fighting for better federal relief

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, CFIB has pushed all levels of government for economic relief measures.

We have heard from small business owners describing how difficult this time has been, and we’ve made significant progress to alleviate your troubles. Here you'll find some of what we have successfully pushed the federal government to do, as well as what we are still asking to help businesses make it through the crisis.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

Applications open

The government is providing a wage subsidy from April 27, 2020 until June 2021 to businesses whose revenues are impacted by COVID-19.

Questions? Here are some helpful resources:

Some of what CFIB has achieved What CFIB is pushing government to do
  • Introduction of a COVID wage subsidy for employers to retain employees
  • Expansion of CEWS from a 10% to a 75% subsidy
  • Greater access to CEWS: 
    • Lower revenue drop test (15%) for March 2020 
    • Elimination of the 30% revenue drop test
    • More months to compare sales to, which helps new and growing firms who might not have qualified otherwise
  • Extension of CEWS from June 6, 2020 to June 2021
  • Introduction of a sliding scale
  • Include new firms and those who had a CRA Business Number after March 15th
  • Simplify the subsidy and ensure access for business owners who employ family members and are paid in dividends
  • Introduce a 25% top-up for businesses closed under public health orders
  • Upon future audits, be flexible in requiring reimbursement should a firm’s revenue drops fall within 5% short of set thresholds
    $60,000 Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

    Applications open

    CEBA is a lending program that can help small firms pay expenses that cannot be deferred during this challenging period. The loans are interest-free, backed by the Government of Canada and forgivable up to $20,000 when paid back by December 31, 2022. 

    Questions? Here are some helpful resources:

    Some of what CFIB has achieved What CFIB is pushing for
    • Increase of the loan amount to $60,000
    • Increase of the forgivable portion to $20,000
    • Expansions of the payroll stream eligibility requirement from a $50,000 to $1 million range to a $20,000 to $1.5 million range
    • Introduction of the CEBA Non-Deferrable Expenses Stream to allow:
      • Sole proprietors
      • Businesses who rely on contractors
      • Those who pay themselves in dividends
    • Expansions for businesses using personal accounts
    • Include new firms and those who had a CRA Business Number after March 1st
    • Not to require signed contracts/agreements dated between January 1st and March 1st to access the non-deferrable expenses stream 
    • Make micro-sized with less than $40K eligible through the non-deferrable expenses stream
    • Include dividends as eligible non-deferrable expenses
    • Simplify the tax calendar year requirement
    • Ensure EDC keeps improving its call centre capacity and quickly resumes taking direct calls
    • Make businesses using third-party payroll providers eligible
    • If the emergency phase of the pandemic lasts beyond the end of 2020, CFIB urges government to consider expanding CEBA to $80,000 with a 50% forgivable portion


      Rent (CECRA & CERS)

      Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) - Applications closed
      From April to October of 2020, the CECRA allowed commercial property owners apply for rent assistance for their tenants. This program is now closed and no longer taking application. 

      Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) – Applications open
      The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) was created to provide rent and mortgage support directly to small businesses, charities and non-profits affected by COVID-19. The subsidy is available on a sliding scale (with a maximum amount of 65%) for businesses that can demonstrate a revenue loss. 

      An additional top-up of 25% (i.e a maximum possible subsidy of 90%) will be available for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority.

      Questions? Here are some helpful resources:

      Some of what CFIB has achieved What CFIB is pushing for
      • Replacement of the CECRA and introduction of the CERS program to provide rent relief to struggling businesses, with three major recommendations for rent support being implemented:
        • The program is independent of landlord participation
        • It continues until June 2021
        • It provides support to businesses with revenue losses on a sliding scale
      • Amendment to the legislation to allow a firm to receive the subsidy in advance with a commitment to use that money to pay their rent bill within 60 days.
      • Ensure rent support is simple
      • Include new firms and those who had a CRA Business Number after September 27th
      • Pay 50% of rents retroactively for those who qualified for CECRA from April to September but did not get it due to the landlord’s lack of participation
      • Ensure CERS is paid on a monthly, not a 4-week basis
      • Make rent paid between non-arm's length entities eligible to CERS
      • Create a new agreement pathway for businesses without a formalized lease.
        Work-Sharing Program

        Applications open
        The Work-Sharing Program is a three-way agreement that can be negotiated between Service Canada, the employer and the employee to provide EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers.

        Questions? Here are some helpful resources:

        What CFIB has achieved What CFIB is pushing for
        • Expansion of the program
        • Alerted Service Canada to CERB & EI-Work-Sharing issues
        • Reduced the red tape in the Work-Sharing application process
        • The expanded Work-Share to continue to support businesses past March 14, 2021
          Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

          Applications open
          The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) provides loans to businesses experiencing challenges through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). This program aims to  help businesses cover their operating costs. Speak to your financial institution account manager to determine what help is available to your business.

          Questions? Here are some helpful resources:

          What CFIB is pushing for
          • Speed up the application process. Shorten waiting times and disburse money quickly
          • Open the programs to more businesses
            Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)

            Applications open
            The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund is a program administered by the Regional Development Agency (RDA) to provide support to local businesses and particularly those not eligible to current federal programs. Each agency is independent. 

            What CFIB has achieved What CFIB is pushing for
            • Making the CEBA-like RRRF loan also entitled to the additional $20K like the CEBA expansion
            • Limit the paperwork required to access these funds, increase the speed of all agencies involved and ensure money flows fast to businesses
            • Include sole proprietors for all agencies
            • Provide statistics on funding 

            Questions? Here are some helpful resources:

            10% Wage Subsidy

            Applications retroactively open

            The 10% wage subsidy allows you to reduce the remittance of federal, provincial or territorial income tax that you send to the CRA by 10%, allowing you to keep a portion of your employees’ income tax. The subsidy only applies to remuneration paid from March 18 to June 19, 2020. It is available retroactively from CRA for eligible business owners who have not claimed it yet.

              For more details on what CIFB has identified as gaps and recommendations for the COVID relief programs please refer to our recent open letters sent to government:

              FAQ on COVID-19

              We’re dedicated to supporting your business through this difficult time by compiling answers to the most common COVID-19 questions and keeping you up to date on the latest relief measures from the provincial governments. Visit our COVID-19 Small Business Help Center to learn more. 

              More resources

              Watch our COVID-19 webinars

              We host weekly COVID-19 webinars aimed at helping your business cope with the ongoing pandemic. We also partner with other organizations to cover a variety of topics useful to you.

              WATCH OUR WEBINARS

              Join the fight for more relief

              We know your business needs more help from government if it's going to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Sign our petition to join CFIB and business owners across Canada in the fight for greater relief.

              SIGN THE PETITION

              Surveying small business concerns

              We're surveying our members on the impact of COVID-19 on their business. Policy makers are telling us these surveys are invaluable to them as the situation unfolds.