Small business rent crisis demands an Alberta hardship grant and expanded federal support as COVID-19 restrictions continue

Nearly half of Alberta’s small business owners are not confident their business will survive if current conditions last until the end of May

Calgary, April 15, 2020 – Eighty-seven per cent of Alberta’s small businesses want the provincial government to provide hardship grants to help cover rent and other fixed costs that small businesses are struggling to pay. According to new survey results by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) taken over the long weekend, nearly half (47%) of Alberta’s small businesses are concerned whether their businesses will survive if the current economic conditions continue until the end of May.  

“The risk of otherwise healthy businesses failing is getting worse by the day as bills are piling up with little or no revenue coming in. We’re asking provincial governments to flatten the curve on small business failure with hardship grants for rent,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president. “We are really encouraged that the federal government is looking at new support for commercial rent as the $10,000 forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account is helpful, but many don’t qualify and even if they do, it only goes so far. We continue to recommend expanding eligibility criteria for CEBA so more can qualify.” 
CFIB recommends provinces create provincial hardship grants of up to $5,000 a month for as long as COVID shutdowns last, including the month of April. Two provinces, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, are already providing one-time grants for small businesses based on 15 per cent of a business’s monthly sales revenue, up to a maximum of $5,000. 

“Alberta’s provincial NDP has proposed a similar program in the form of a $10,000 emergency subsidy available to small businesses to cover rent,” said Annie Dormuth, CFIB’s Alberta provincial affairs director. “We are calling on the Alberta government to follow Saskatchewan’s model and make grants available to small businesses, especially those that have had to close or reduce their operations because of public health orders.”

Other notable survey results from Alberta small businesses include:

  • 88 per cent think the situation will get worse for their business before it gets better;
  • 80 per cent are worried about cash flow;
  • 81 per cent think they can respect social distancing and provide protection for employees should be allowed to reopen; and
  • Average small business rent nationally is $10,000 a month (with a wide range around this number).

CFIB has also called for a 25 per cent reduction in annual property taxes and eviction protection for commercial tenants otherwise in good standing for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Small businesses take no joy in asking for government help but we are in extraordinary circumstances. Without more lifelines too many otherwise healthy businesses will be left drowning in debt,” said Jones.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Annie Dormuth, CFIB
403 700-1945

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, including 10,000 in Alberta. 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