Manitoba budget provides little relief for struggling small businesses

Winnipeg, April 12, 2022 - The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is disappointed Manitoba’s 2022-23 budget includes few measures to help small businesses’ post-pandemic recovery and in fact excludes small businesses from some of the budget’s only cost relief measures.

“Two years into the pandemic, many small businesses are still in survival mode: only 41% are back to normal sales, and many have accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in pandemic-related debt,” said Kathleen Cook, CFIB provincial affairs director. “The budget was a missed opportunity to help small firms facing massive cost increases on virtually every line of their own budgets.”

Tax relief

CFIB has long advocated for further increases to the exemption threshold for the Health and Education Levy and is pleased to see Budget 2022-23 increases the exemption thresholds from $1.75 million to $2 million and $3.5 million to $4 million. “Increasing the threshold was one of CFIB’s budget recommendations as it exempts more small businesses from paying this punitive, job-killing tax,” said Cook.

Cost relief measures exclude small businesses

While the budget incorporates CFIB’s recommendation to impose no new costs on small businesses, CFIB is disappointed that small businesses are excluded from the budget’s cost relief measures.

The increased education property tax rebates announced today - while good news for homeowners and farmers - provide no further help to struggling small businesses. While residential and farm properties will see rebates increased from 25% last year to 37.5% in 2022 and 50% in 2023, commercial property tax rebates remain frozen at 10% for both years - further widening the property tax gap.

The reduction in vehicle registration fees, touted as a measure to help drivers feeling squeezed by gas prices, applies only to non-commercial vehicles. Additionally, the new renters tax credit only applies to residential renters. Small businesses renting commercial property are excluded from this cost relief measure.

Challenges to economic recovery

Recent CFIB survey results reveal the challenges Manitoba small businesses are currently facing: 

  • Rising prices (fuel, food, insurance, etc.) (88%)*
  • Supply chain challenges (71%) *
  • Government increasing costs (CPP/EI premiums, payroll taxes, etc.) (58%)*
  • Labour shortages (49%)*

*Percentages represent the portion of Manitoba business owners who responded the issue was having a significant impact on their business (February 2022)

“For many hard-hit small businesses, the end of COVID restrictions has not meant a return to ‘business as usual’,” said Cook. “We were hoping to see cost relief measures introduced in the budget to help small businesses recover. With today’s budget, the Manitoba government has missed an opportunity to help small businesses move beyond survival mode.”

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Kathleen Cook
Provincial affairs director 
431-388-2395
kathleen.cook@cfib.ca   

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members (4,000 in Manitoba) 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.