Extended COVID support, new hiring incentive and lower credit card fees bring some good budget news for hard-hit small businesses

Many program gaps remain a critical challenge

Toronto, April 19, 2021 – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is pleased that today’s federal budget extends the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) into the fall. It is also positive to see the federal government lay out a plan for recovery, including helping small businesses hire more workers.

“Small businesses have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with only 56 per cent fully open across the country a year after the pandemic began,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “Today’s budget delivered meaningful support to many, but there are still critical gaps in the federal relief programs that exclude tens of thousands of hard-hit businesses.” 

Federal support programs
While the extension of existing programs is good news, CFIB is disappointed that new businesses are still shut out of accessing any support. In addition, no new measures were put in place to help address the $170,000 in new COVID-related debt the average small firm has taken on. CFIB had recommended government increase the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans to $80,000 with a 50 per cent forgivable portion as well as adding a forgivable portion to loans under the Heavily Affected Sector Credit Availability Program (HASCAP). 

“I congratulate Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland for moving on CFIB’s recommendation for a significant hiring incentive for small business owners,” Kelly said. “The new Canada Recovery Hiring Program will be a powerful tool to help small firms bring back their staff as we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic. CFIB will work with government to ensure it is broadly available, including to new firms and those that were not in a position to use the wage subsidy.”

Credit card fee reductions
CFIB is pleased to see the government commit to reducing credit card swipe fees that merchants pay. Some of these costs have increased over the pandemic, as rates for online and telephone-based transactions are much higher than in-store fees. CFIB will work with government and the payments industry to help deliver on this promise.

New taxes/rising deficits
CFIB supports the government’s plan to levy existing taxes on international digital and e-commerce players in order to level the playing field between Canadian and foreign business. 

“We will encourage Parliament to reject the planned luxury tax for certain car, truck and boat purchases on behalf of the small firms who are involved in these important sectors of our economy,” Kelly added. 

“While small firms understand the need for large short-term deficits to address the many COVID-related costs, we are concerned about the significant amount of non-COVID spending in this budget. Small business owners worry that today’s deficits will turn into tomorrow’s taxes. The government must put forward a long-term plan to balance the budget to give business owners much-needed certainty as we all work towards economic recovery” concluded Kelly.

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 cfib.ca.