CFIB statement on new federal rapid tests for SMEs program

Toronto, May 7, 2021 – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomes today’s announcement by the federal government that rapid tests will be made available to small businesses through Canadian pharmacies.  

For many months, small firms have been asking for rapid tests as an alternative to blanket lockdowns and CFIB is encouraged by the pilot in regions of Ontario hit hard by COVID-19 through select Shoppers Drug Mart locations. CFIB congratulates both the federal government and Shoppers for this important tool in the battle against COVID-19.

Small businesses have been clear: they want to see governments apply more creative solutions to control the spread of COVID-19, while allowing them to remain open safely, including the use of rapid testing. In fact, nearly two-thirds of businesses (63 per cent) say they would consider using COVID-19 rapid screening in their workplace if it would help their business get or stay open. As an example, a hair salon that agrees to offer rapid testing to stylists could be allowed to get or remain open to serve clients.  

Small businesses can immediately arrange for rapid tests to be picked up at more than 40 Shoppers Drug Mart locations in hot spots across Ontario. The federal government has agreed to cover the full cost of the test, so businesses will only have to pay a small administrative charge to receive tests for their workplace. 

It is encouraging that the government has already indicated it plans to scale up the program to other pharmacies and locations. Given the slow movement in rolling out rapid testing to small businesses in several provinces, CFIB urges Health Canada to expand this program across the country as quickly as possible, with special attention to delivery through both chain and independent pharmacies.

As no one is predicting the pandemic will be solved tomorrow, rapid testing can play an important part in getting and keeping the economy open during the recovery phase ahead.

-Dan Kelly, President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
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 95,000 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