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CFIB statement on new restrictions for BC restaurants and gyms

Vancouver, March 29, 2021 – In response to greater restrictions placed on BC businesses today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling for greater small business supports as additional restrictions will negatively impact local jobs, economic activity, and may lead business owners who are already struggling to close shop. In addition, the CFIB is calling on the BC government to encourage British Columbians to find ways to support local over the Easter Long weekend and into the summer.

The decision to suspend indoor dining and indoor activities will push economic recovery for small businesses further into the future. For example, restaurants have been operating at reduced capacity since initial restrictions were placed on March 20, 2020. While programs like “pop-up patios” have helped some restaurants expand capacity to serve customers outdoors, operating at reduced capacity is simply unsustainable.

“The restaurant industry has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic,” says Muriel Protzer, Senior Policy Analyst, BC and the North. “For over a year now, they have operated at limited capacity. This has restricted their ability to bring back employees and pay fixed costs like rent,” adds Protzer.

CFIB data from a survey conducted in March 2021 shows that the hospitality industry, which includes restaurants, is especially hurting. In a sample of 62 hospitality businesses, just 18 per cent reported normal staffing levels and 12 per cent reporting normal revenues. Comparatively, the provincial averages were 45 per cent at normal staffing and 35 per cent making normal revenues. Data can be found at CFIB’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard.

Businesses in the fitness industry have also been significantly impacted by Provincial Health Orders. Indoor exercise activities, such as hot yoga, spin classes, and circuit training have been suspended since November 19, 2020. The new restrictions announced today will shutter all indoor exercise activities, with the exception of one-on-one activities. While some fitness businesses have been able to pivot to online models, they cannot rely on this indefinitely as a business model.

“While federal and provincial programs have been a life line for many businesses over the past year, small business debts are continuing to grow”, says Protzer. A recent report from the CFIB found that the average debt per business who has taken on debt was $138,000 in BC. “Additional support from governments that don’t inflate small business debts will be critical over the next months. Tax deferrals, flexibility in payments, and additional access to grants are needed,” adds Protzer.

The CFIB is calling on the BC Government to take the following actions:

  • Reduce the School Tax in 2021 such that the average business sees a 25% reduction in their overall property tax bill
  • Give businesses more flexibility to make payments by deferring provincial taxes, including but not limited to the Employer Health Tax, Provincial Sales Tax, and Carbon Tax
  • Stop all tax increases and planned taxes for 2021, starting with:
    • Defer the introduction of the PST on soda beverages on April 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022
    • Defer the carbon tax increase from $40 per tonne to $45 per tonne on April 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022

“It is necessary to protect the health and safety of British Columbians. It is also necessary that the BC government ensure sufficient support and attention is given to the business community to ensure British Columbians have jobs to return to once restrictions are eased,” adds Protzer. “This is why CFIB is calling on the BC government to immediately expand support measures through tax deferrals and relief.”

More than ever before, small businesses need your support. CFIB is encouraging British Columbians to find new ways to support local businesses at a distance or virtually. “Connect with friends and family virtually this weekend by ordering takeout or sending gifts from local vendors who offer delivery,” suggests Protzer. “It’s small but meaningful actions like this that make a difference”.

CFIB data is from Your Voice – March 2021: Monthly National Survey with 4,869 responses from Canadian business owners. BC breakouts are used within the release, with a sample size of 547 BC responses and 62 BC hospitality responses.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Muriel Protzer, Senior Policy Analyst
muriel.protzer@cfib.ca
1-800-667-3435 (Media inquiries line)

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 cfib.ca.

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