Small businesses issue list of priorities for First Ministers

Economic stability, investor confidence and COVID-19 should be top of the agenda at First Ministers’ meeting 

Ottawa, March 12, 2020 – Canada’s small businesses are calling on the Premiers and Prime Minister to work to restore economic stability and investor confidence at this week’s First Ministers’ meeting, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

“After the recent pipeline protests and rail blockades, and now facing fears around COVID-19, small business owners badly need reassurance that getting Canada’s economy back on track is the top priority for the First Ministers,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’s senior vice-president of national affairs. “We need to see serious leadership come out of tomorrow’s meeting to address these issues and help small business owners weather these difficult times.”

Nearly two thirds of small business owners believe that Canada is facing serious challenges with regards to investor confidence, according to a recent CFIB survey. Additionally, business owners are concerned about their own ability to compete and succeed in the current climate and are asking for relief.

To this end, CFIB issued a list of priorities for the First Ministers at this week’s meeting:

  • Create clear and predictable pathways for the approval of large natural resource infrastructure projects.
  • Introduce measures to offset tax increases on small employers such as the planned CPP/QPP increases and minimum wage hikes.
  • Dismantle interprovincial trade barriers, make interprovincial trade a standing item on the First Ministers and Council of the Federation meeting agendas moving forward and report annually on progress.

CFIB was pleased by yesterday’s federal announcement of funding to address COVID-19 and supports measures like waiving the EI waiting period for workers, strengthening the workshare program and making credit readily available for struggling businesses. In addition, the government should:

  • Provide relief from penalties and interest for late remittances of GST/HST, workers' compensation premiums and other tax obligations.
  • Put planned increases of CPP/QPP on hold. 
  • Press pause on routine audits. This process is already stressful for small business owners.
  • Continue to provide assistance to small businesses who may have to shut down temporarily or even permanently. 
  • Consider additional relief measures for those experiencing significant impacts as with any other natural disaster.

“This week’s meeting is also an important opportunity to show unity as a country in addressing these issues,” added Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president. “We trust the First Ministers to take decisive action to stabilize the economy and ensure small businesses can continue planning for the future.”

Read CFIB’s full letter to the First Ministers 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