One in four small businesses still negatively affected by slow return to office by downtown workers, yet federal supports expire tomorrow

Toronto, May 6, 2022 – Roughly one in four (24%) small business owners’ revenues are currently impacted by a slow return to the office by downtown workers despite the lifting of COVID restrictions, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). 

The impact is even more significant for certain sectors like hospitality (46%), personal services (31%), enterprises and administrative management (29%), and retail (28%).

“The pandemic caused many businesses and governments to transition to a hybrid work model, leaving many downtown cores empty. Many local businesses rely on workers returning to in-person work. At a time when only 40% of businesses are making normal revenues and 65% are dealing with pandemic-related debt, consumer spending is more important now than ever,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice President of National Affairs at CFIB.

Overall, three in five (60%) small business owners agreed that government and big business should increase their efforts to get their workers back to downtown cores. This figure jumps to over four in five businesses (84%) among those whose revenues have been impacted by a lack of workers in downtown cores.

Many businesses, such as retail and hospitality, are looking to the approaching warm season to boost their sales and revenues. With a lack of customers and major federal COVID support programs ending May 7, many businesses will struggle to make it through.

“Programs like the Canada Recovery Hiring Program are retroactive, meaning applications will be accepted up to 180 days after the end of a claim period. However, business expenses beyond May 7 will not be covered,” Pohlmann said. “The lack of financial relief and consumer demand may lead to more businesses struggling to make ends meet and some may end up winding down their operations.”

CFIB continues to petition the government to help small businesses reduce their COVID debt burdens by increasing the forgivable portion of their CEBA loan to at least 50% and extending the repayment deadline for an additional year.

Small business owners can add their voice to CFIB’s petition calling for more debt relief at

For more information on the Canada Recovery Hiring Program and how to apply, visit here Information of Blog.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB

Your Voice – April 2022: An online survey completed by 2,886 CFIB members between April 8 and 22, 2022. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of ±1.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Results obtained are final. 

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