Toronto, July 17, 2020 – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is pleased the government has finally released details of what the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will look like for the summer and fall of this year. Assuming the legislation passes, small businesses will be able to make their staffing plans for the rest of the year with a better understanding of how much government support will be there depending on their sales. Extending the subsidy and providing firm details are critical parts of getting Canadians back to work.
CFIB welcomes the change that will extend eligibility for the wage subsidy to all businesses with any level of revenue loss over the months ahead. The “all or nothing” approach cut out many firms that were not able to predict their sales levels or had revenue losses under the 30 per cent threshold. Many more small firms will now be eligible for a smaller subsidy which will allow them to be more confident in making hiring decisions while their revenues remain uncertain.
But the new rules are incredibly complicated and small business owners will need significant help in understanding whether they will qualify and how much support they may receive. There are top-ups for those with revenue losses greater than 50 per cent and “safe harbour” rules for those who would otherwise get a smaller subsidy in July and August. Over one third of CFIB members report their sales are less than half of normal levels. Many of these decisions make good sense, but a detailed analysis is required to fully understand all of the implications. CFIB is committed to working with the federal government to help communicate the new rules to small business owners and provide advice on any necessary changes.
I expect CFIB's Business Help Line to be in hot demand in the days ahead to help small business owners understand these new rules. CFIB has already taken over 25,000 calls from small business owners on COVID-19 and related programs. We have extended this one-on-one counselling service to all small business owners through cfib.ca/introductoryoffer.
CFIB urges the federal government to make quick progress to reform other key business support programs, including proceeding with promised changes to eligibility for the Canada Emergency Business Account, and expanding the size of the loans and the percentage forgiven upon repayment. It is also critical that we make immediate changes to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program as it is just not working for most small business owners. Getting support directly to tenants and rethinking the 70 per cent revenue drop test are top priorities for small business.
Small firms look forward to the day that subsidies can be replaced by sales. But over half of small firms report it will take them six months or more to return to normal revenue levels. While today’s announcement will help smooth this transition for many, quick action on retooling all programs to aid during the recovery is urgently needed.
- Dan Kelly, President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)
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Milena Stanoeva, 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 cfib.ca.