CFIB statement on CEBA expansion and the Canada Emergency Rent Assistance Program

Toronto, April 16, 2020 – CFIB welcomes today’s announcement by the Prime Minister that the federal government is increasing eligibility for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and launching a program to support small businesses with the cost of rent. 

It is clear that the government has been listening to the concerns raised by CFIB and small business owners across the country with today’s significant change to CEBA. Reducing the wage floor from $50,000 to $20,000 and raising the ceiling to from $1 million to $1.5 million will allow thousands of additional small firms to access this important program. Still, brand new firms, the self-employed and those that pay with dividends only will remain excluded from CEBA. CFIB will continue to advocate on their behalf. 

After their wage bill, commercial rent is the second largest expense for most SMEs and this important fixed cost has been left out of most current federal and provincial programs. The Canada Emergency Rent Assistance Program is the first major, Canada-wide initiative to support small businesses with this giant expense as we head into a second month of a virtual shut-down of the small business economy. Provincial governments now need to offer additional financial support and ensure that commercial tenants won’t be evicted due to COVID-19. Other than Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, provincial governments have been slow to come to the table to offer support with rent despite the fact that it is provincial governments that have ordered SMEs to close. 

Currently, 80 per cent of small businesses are completely or partially shut-down in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The average small business owner pays $10,000 in commercial rent and these bills have not stopped. CFIB’s research found that 90 per cent of small business owners wanted their provincial governments to offer such assistance.

CFIB will be examining details of the program and will make recommendations on ways to ensure small business owners see their rent costs reduced or eliminated, not just deferred. Many firms are worried that deferring rent and other costs will simply delay a potential bankruptcy as the bills start to come due when firms are just reopening and their income remains low. CFIB is also working to ensure there is support for small business owners with commercial mortgages.  

The federal government has shown a willingness to improve its COVID-19 relief programs over time, such as the ongoing changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. We are counting on the federal and provincial governments and landlords to work closely together to ensure the relief gets to the small business tenant. As 50 per cent of small businesses report they may not survive under the current restrictions until the end of May, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure this important support is simple, flexible and fast.

- Dan Kelly, President, and Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

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