Canada could lose an additional 158,000 small businesses to COVID-19; 67,112 at risk in Ontario

Government and consumer support make-or-break for small business survival

Toronto, July 29, 2020 – One in seven small businesses are at risk of going under as a result of COVID-19 in addition to the ones that have already closed, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in a new report featured on its Small Business Recovery Dashboard, part of its #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign. CFIB’s mid-range estimate for business closures due to COVID-19 is 158,000 (14 per cent of small businesses), with 67,112 of those in Ontario. Depending on how the recovery goes, small business losses could be as few as 55,000 (5 per cent) or as many as 218,000 (19 per cent) nationwide.
“Small businesses are big players in our economy, so minimizing business losses is critical to recovery. Right now, both government support and consumer behaviour are critical to transitioning back to conditions that allow businesses to survive and thrive,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. 

In Ontario, CFIB’s estimates for businesses that could be potentially lost due to COVID-19 range from 23,545 (6 per cent) to 90,253 (22 per cent).

“COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on Ontario’s small businesses,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB director of provincial affairs in Ontario. “It’s encouraging that government and health officials have determined that most businesses across the province can open; however, small business owners need more than open doors to make up for lost time and sales. These summer months are essential to generating as much revenue as possible, while business owners brace for a potential second wave in the fall.”

Nationally, businesses in the arts and recreation (gyms, venues, arcades) and hospitality (restaurants, hotels, caterers) sectors are most at risk. Hospitality could see 27 per cent of businesses close and arts and recreation, 30 per cent. Compared to all provinces, businesses in Ontario face the second highest risk of closing, with a mid-range estimate of 16 per cent going under as a result of COVID-19.

CFIB’s latest Small Business Recovery Dashboard results for Ontario show that:
•    55 per cent of small businesses are fully open 
•    35 per cent are fully staffed 
•    23 per cent are making normal sales 

Last month, CFIB launched #SmallBusinessEveryDay to encourage local shopping through a series of doable challenges and promote other initiatives that support small business recovery. Consumers can find information about many campaigns such as the new Canada United campaign, which will donate funds to hard-hit businesses when Canadians take simple actions like using the hashtag #CanadaUnited on Twitter. 

“With many provinces heading into a long weekend, we hope people will visit and accept a challenge as a fun way to spend time with friends and family while helping local businesses. It’s all about supporting our favourite businesses today, so they will be here tomorrow. There are many great campaigns that help amplify that support. No one is too small to make a difference,” said Jones.

Read CFIB’s full research snapshot  for more details.

For media inquiries or interviews, please contact:
Wissal El Alaoui, CFIB

Source of CFIB’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard data
These are preliminary results for Your Business and COVID-19 – Survey #17, a new CFIB online survey started on July 17, 2020, completed by 5,269 CFIB members to date. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 

Source of CFIB’s business closure estimates
Detailed in the report How many Canadian businesses are at risk of permanently closing due to COVID-19?  from July 2020.

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, including 42,000 in Ontario. 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

About #SmallBusinessEveryDay
The #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign is an extension of CFIB’s annual Small Business Saturday. The campaign encourages local shopping, promotes initiatives to support small business, and provides posters and other tools for businesses to use. It is supported by Scotiabank, Chase Merchant Services, eBay Canada, Intuit Canada, Interac Corp, and Star Metroland Media. To find out more about being a media sponsor, please contact