Manitoba small businesses mark second anniversary of COVID: Sales remain low, debt remains high, and many are considering permanent closure

Winnipeg, March 9, 2022 – Two years into the pandemic, small businesses are a long way from recovery, according to the latest Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Small Business Recovery Dashboard. Only 28 per cent of Manitoba small businesses have returned to normal sales, while debt levels and the share of businesses considering bankruptcy remain high.

“While it is good news that most COVID business restrictions have been lifted in Manitoba, the economic damage to small business has been massive and has left many in a very precarious position,” said CFIB provincial affairs director Kathleen Cook. “As we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic, it’s critical that the Manitoba government ensure its upcoming budget provides immediate cost relief for small businesses.”

In Manitoba, nearly two thirds of businesses (64 per cent) report taking on pandemic-related debt, at an average of $79,000 per business. In addition, one in ten Manitoba businesses is actively considering bankruptcy or permanently winding down operations.

Since the start of 2022, the share of Manitoba businesses reporting normal sales has dropped from 37 per cent at the beginning of January to just 28 per cent in February. Until more businesses can get back to normal sales, their capacity to absorb new costs or repay debt remains significantly reduced. To give small businesses time to recover, CFIB is urging the Manitoba government to take the following steps in its upcoming budget:

  • Refrain from increasing taxes or introducing any new taxes and fees for small businesses
  • Increase the exemption threshold for the Health and Education Levy to $2.5 million
  • Proceed with previously announced plans to gradually eliminate education taxes on property, and ensure that small businesses aren’t paying more than their fair share in the meantime
  • Provide recovery assistance for hard-hit small businesses (for example, wage subsidies to assist with hiring back staff)

“Small businesses have borne the brunt of two years of COVID restrictions and will be dealing with the fallout of the pandemic for months, if not years,” added Cook. “Imposing new costs and higher taxes on them right could be the final nail in the coffin for some.”

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:

Kathleen Cook, provincial affairs director, CFIB


This press release presents findings from the following recent CFIB surveys:

  • Your Voice – February 2022: An online survey completed by 4,001 CFIB members between February 9-25, 2022. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of ±1.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 
  • Your Voice – January 2022: An online survey completed by 5,630 CFIB members between January 18-27, 2022. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of ±1.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 

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