BC small businesses mark second anniversary of COVID: Sales remain low, debt remains high, and many are considering permanent closure

Vancouver, March 9, 2022 – Two years into the pandemic, BC small businesses are a long way from recovery, according to the latest Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Small Business Recovery Dashboard. Only 35 per cent of BC businesses have returned to normal sales, while debt levels and the share of businesses considering bankruptcy remain high.
“While its good news that COVID restrictions have started to lift across BC, the economic damage to small business has been massive and has left many in a very precarious position,” said Annie Dormuth, BC provincial affairs director. “It’s critical that as we enter recovery phase of the pandemic, the BC government provides immediate cost relief to businesses. The provincial budget a couple weeks ago was a missed opportunity to do that, but it’s not too late for the government to act now.” 
In BC, two thirds of businesses (68 per cent) report taking on debt, at an average of $226,700 per business. In addition, one in seven (14 per cent) of BC small businesses are actively considering bankruptcy or permanently winding down operations.

Until more businesses can get back to normal sales, their capacity to face new costs or repay debt remains significantly reduced. To give small businesses time to recover, CFIB is urging the BC government to:

  • Fix the BC 5-day employer paid sick day policy by moving it back to government paid 
  • Cancel the Employer Health Tax to ensure the government is not double taxing businesses on health-related costs
  • Not increase the carbon tax on April 1, 2022 and immediately work to reduce energy and gas costs by removing the provincial sales tax announced in budget 2022

“BC small businesses have borne the brunt of two years of COVID restrictions and will be dealing with the fallout of the pandemic for months, if not years. Imposing new costs and higher taxes on them right could be the final nail in the coffin for some,” concluded Dormuth.
For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Annie Dormuth
BC provincial affairs director 
403 700-1945

This press release presents findings from the following recent CFIB surveys:

  • Your Voice – February 2022: An online survey completed by 4,001 CFIB members between February 9-25, 2022. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of ±1.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 
  • Your Voice – January 2022: An online survey completed by 5,630 CFIB members between January 18-27, 2022. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of ±1.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members (9,000 in BC) 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 cfib.ca.