One third of shuttered SMEs not confident they will ever reopen

Toronto, March 31, 2020 –Small businesses remain extremely anxious about the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and 32 per cent of those who have had to close are unsure if they will be able to reopen, show new survey results released today from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  While current federal support programs like wage subsidies are viewed positively by business owners, much more is required to addressed ongoing fixed costs, such as rent.

“Putting in place a 75 per cent wage subsidy was terrific news and we are already hearing from business owners who have delayed layoffs as a result. Stress among business owners is very high and it’s critical that the wage subsidy and other measures are accessible to as many businesses as possible to avoid a flood of permanent closures in the weeks and months to come,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly.

The survey found:

  • 68 per cent viewed the wage subsidy program as helpful (despite limited details being available)
  • 71 per cent said deferring GST/HST payments will be of assistance
  • 53 per cent rated the new Canada Emergency Business Account positively
  • 56 per cent said they have no more capacity to take on debt during this emergency
  • 21 per cent remain fully open, 31 per cent are fully closed, 46 per cent are partially shut down
  • The average cost of COVID-19 on small business is $160,000

More measures needed 
CFIB is asking provincial governments to offer more property tax relief and for direct help with rent and mortgage payments. It is also asking the federal government to delay its planned carbon tax increase.

“The burden of the federal carbon tax falls heavily on small business,” added Kelly. “Now is not the time for a 50 per cent tax hike, particularly as businesses cannot focus on researching the small rebate programs for which they may be eligible. We urge the government to halt tomorrow’s expansion so business owners can catch their breath.”

“We know, from the thousands of calls we’ve answered from small business owners on COVID-19, that they are still very concerned with what’s to come,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’s senior vice-president of national affairs. “The measures announced by the federal government last week gave them a glimmer of hope. The additional measures we have recommended would give those businesses that are still holding on a fighting chance.” 

Read the full survey results for more details.

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 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