Canadians worried about closure of local businesses, CFIB says

Small/medium business lobby group wants Ottawa to modify COVID-19 aid programs

Four in five Canadians are worried their favourite local businesses may close down as a result of the pandemic, according to new public opinion research conducted by Maru/Matchbox for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard.

The poll found:

  • 82 per cent of Canadians are worried that their favourite local businesses will close down;
  • 69 per cent are concerned the economy is not recovering fast enough;
  • 76 per cent believe we need to start focusing more on economic recovery;
  • 95 per cent believe supporting small business is key to keeping the economy healthy.

‘A pivotal moment’

“We are in a pivotal moment for small business recovery,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly and CFIB vice-president for Quebec François Vincent.

“Canadians’ concern that some of their favourite businesses may close is not misplaced. CFIB’s research shows that Canada may lose 158,000 small businesses before the end of the pandemic, particularly as many continue to face dramatically lower sales.”

The latest bi-weekly data from CFIB’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard also shows:

  • 63 per cent of small businesses are fully open;
  • 39 per cent are fully staffed;
  • 26 per cent are making normal sales.

Impact on local emerging

“Back in June, we saw that Canadians were starting to be more comfortable with eating at dine-in restaurants and going to their barbers or stylists for a haircut. Now, Canadians are realizing that a slow economic recovery will hurt their favourite local businesses and community as a whole,” said Kyle Davies, Senior Vice President at Maru/Matchbox.

CFIB is encouraging Canadians to get involved in helping small businesses survive by shopping at their local, independent businesses. At, consumers can participate in interesting challenges to support local businesses, and find information about other initiatives aimed at small business recovery.

Shop at small businesses

One of those initiatives is American Express’s Shop Small campaign, which is encouraging cardholders to shop at small businesses by offering a $5 credit when they spend at least $10 with their registered card, at up to 10 different participating businesses until September 13.

‘We are in a pivotal moment for small business recovery,’ says CFIB president Dan Kelly and vice-president for Quebec François Vincent

“There’s a reason we all have a favourite independent coffee shop, gym, or flower shop — they give us terrific service, grow local economies and make our communities more vibrant and unique,” added Vincent and Kelly. “Buying local is one of the most important things Canadians can do to help our economy recover quickly.”

Changes sought to COVID aid

According to the CFIB, small business owners are also joining forces to demand important changes to the federal government’s COVID-19 aid programs through an online petition.

“Small businesses have been battered by months of closures, reduced sales and new costs, and three quarters of entrepreneurs still not making their normal levels of sales. As a result, CFIB estimates 158,000 small firms (one in seven) may close,” said Vincent and Kelly. 

Some businesses ineligible

While many small firms have been helped by the three major government support programs, according to the CFIB tens of thousands remain ineligible — particularly for the CEBA loan program and the commercial rent subsidy (CECRA).

CFIB has asked government to make the following changes to current aid programs: Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): (a) extend the deadline for the program (b) immediately expand access to more firms (those using personal bank accounts, new firms and those with less than $40,000 in non-deferrable expenses), (c) provide clear reasons for rejection, and (d) increase the loan amount to $60,000 and the forgivable portion to 50 per cent

Other CFIB recommedations

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA): (a) allow tenants to access rent support directly, regardless of their landlord’s participation, (b) expand coverage to more firms with lower levels of business losses and (c) extend over the summer and fall

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): (a) extend CERB for those without work, but ensure benefits stop if an employee is offered their old job back (other than for sickness/family issues), and (b) allow recipients to earn more than $1,000/month without losing benefits

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): (a) simplify the application process and (b) ensure business owners and their family members working in the business can have some of their dividend income covered

More than 7,000 business owners have already signed CFIB’s petition calling for changes.