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50 per cent more small businesses now fully open as provincial restrictions lift: Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick lead the way

Toronto, May 21, 2020 – The share of businesses that are fully open has begun to rise as provinces restart their economies, according to the latest survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Just under a third of businesses are now fully open, up from 21 per cent a month ago.  Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick now have the greatest number of small firms fully open, while Nova Scotia, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador are the least open economies.

Percentage fully reopen by province

33 47 39 44 26 38 44 40 27 22

“It’s good to see that the share of businesses fully open is finally larger than businesses fully closed due to COVID-19,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. 

In terms of business sectors, retail, arts and recreation, services and restaurants/hospitality were the least likely to be fully open.

“While it is good news that more firms are beginning to open across the country, it is important to keep in mind that 67 per cent of businesses remain fully or partially closed due to COVID-19,” Kelly added. “In addition, there is a lot of uncertainty for businesses in the months to come, including how to recall laid-off workers, what new measures they should put in place to protect their staff and customers, and if reopening will even be financially possible if their sales are too low.”

CFIB’s survey found that:

  • The top reasons for not fully opening are government mandated closures (49 per cent), sales too low to make it worthwhile (36 per cent) and concerns over the health and safety of staff and customers (35 per cent)
  • 26 per cent of small firms are concerned they may be forced to close their doors permanently
  • 36 per cent of business owners are worried about accessing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

CFIB has developed a number of tools and resources for all small business owners, including:

  • Free access to CFIB’s team of experts for one-on-one advice on all government support programs at
  • A downloadable “Back to Business” kit, including information on provincial guidelines, a customizable “We’re open” poster and workplace safety templates at
  • A “PPEs for SMEs” Facebook group, where small businesses looking to buy PPE can connect with those that produce it 

“Small businesses want to do their part in flattening the curve by giving consumers the option to spread out over a larger number of smaller locations,” concluded Kelly. “We invite consumers who want to avoid crowds in the months to come to visit their local butcher, their neighbourhood hardware store or the family-run hobby shop down the street.”

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB
[email protected] 

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at

May 21, 2020

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