Small business rent crisis demands a provincial grant and expanded federal support as COVID-19 restrictions continue

Only half of Ontario small business owners are confident their business will survive if current conditions last until the end of May

Toronto, April 15, 2020 – Ninety per cent of Ontario small businesses want the provincial government to provide a hardship grant to help pay for rent, utility and other bills as they face mounting debt, according to new survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). 

“The risk of otherwise healthy businesses failing is getting higher by the day as bills keep piling up with little or no revenue coming in. We’re asking Premier Ford to stand up for small business and introduce a hardship grant,” said Plamen Petkov, CFIB vice president, Ontario. “While federal measures like the $10,000 forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account are helpful, many businesses don’t qualify and even if they do, it only goes so far. We need Ontario to step in to fill the financial gaps.”

CFIB recommends that Ontario create a hardship grant of up to $5,000 a month for as long as COVID-19 shutdowns last, including the month of April. Yesterday, CFIB sent a letter to Premier Ford calling for this program.

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.  

“We applaud Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan for making hardship money available to businesses,” said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB director of provincial affairs, Ontario. “We would like to see Ontario take a page from Saskatchewan’s book and make grants widely available to all small businesses, especially vulnerable sectors such as seasonal businesses, retail, hospitality, and personal services.”

Other notable survey results for Ontario include:

  • 86 per cent of businesses think the situation will get worse for their business before it gets better;
  • 80 per cent are worried about cash flow;
  • Average small business rent is $9,950 a month (with a wide range around this number); and
  • 70 per cent think businesses that can respect social distancing and provide protection for employees should be allowed to reopen. 

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 Petkov. 

For media inquiries 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, including 42,000 in Ontario. 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