CFIB statement: Many small businesses far too fragile to survive another round of lockdowns

Toronto, November 10, 2020 – As cities, provinces and the federal government move toward new business closures in many parts of the country, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) urges them to provide immediate and full financial support to affected businesses. Today’s lockdown in Manitoba is nearly as comprehensive as the March shut-down, but small businesses are far more fragile today. Earlier CFIB estimates suggest 160,000 businesses across Canada may permanently close due to COVID-19, with the potential for the number to rise to 225,000.

While some federal government programs are delivering needed support and further positive reforms are before the House of Commons right now, Canada’s programs are just not ready to deliver enough aid to small businesses affected by a second round of full or partial closures. Earlier today, the Prime Minister said no provincial leader should ease public health measures because they are feeling pressure not to shut down businesses as federal programs are in place to support those businesses impacted by any shutdown orders. 

CFIB notes that:

  • There is currently no program in place to support paying rent and the new, improved Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) program is in the draft legislative stage.
  • The generosity of the wage subsidy has been reduced from 75 to 65 per cent and there is no plan for an additional top-up for businesses affected by a second round of closures.
  • The previously announced expansion of the CEBA loan program by $20,000 with an additional $10,000 forgivable portion is not yet in effect.
  • Hundreds of thousands of small firms have fallen through the cracks of all federal programs and have received zero support. These include new firms and micro-sized businesses.

Provincial governments need to give additional focus to the economic damage their policies have created. CFIB urges provinces to consider:

  • Limiting the use of any blanket lockdowns. Any business closures should be limited to sectors and regions where there is evidence to support them rather than using blanket measures to send a message to the public that COVID-19 is serious.
  • Sharing sectoral data regularly to allow the public to make safer consumer choices and help business owners understand the reasons for such measures.
  • If governments close or limit in-store retail as is happening in Manitoba, measures should be applied fairly. If a small business with only a few customers per day can’t sell t-shirts or TVs, crowded big box stores like Costco and Walmart shouldn’t be allowed to sell them either just because they have a grocery section.
  • Provide supplemental provincial support programs for small firms, including retroactive rent support for firms that qualified for but didn’t receive the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) due to the lack of landlord participation.

“We are all in this together” means that business owners should not be asked to cover the costs of protecting society through fresh lockdowns of the economy alone. They need full, immediate and ongoing support in any jurisdiction where new restrictions are introduced.

- Dan Kelly, 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