CFIB believes many businesses won't be able to survive without government assistance

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is urging the government to provide a wage subsidy of 75 per cent for small businesses. 

So far, 60 per cent of small businesses have have seen a significant drop in sales with more than one in three reporting a drop in sales by more than 75 per cent. 

More than half of small firms have begun laying off staff, with a quarter reporting they have already been forced to lay off their entire workforce,” Dan Kelly, president of CFIB, said in a news release. 

At this rate, the only way to prevent massive additional unemployment is for government to introduce a much larger wage subsidy program,” he continued. 

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many businesses have had to reduce hours and lay people off, while offers have had to close completely. 

As a result, CFIB is proposing a COVID-19 Job Retention Program that would subsidize employee wages, which would cost 75 per cent of wages for all employers, up to a cap of $5,000 per worker per month.

On top of the 930,000 new Employment Insurance applications filed last week across Canada, many small business will be forced to make additional layoff decisions in the next few days,” Kelly said. 

Announcing a wage subsidy now will protect many jobs and keep employees connected to their employers, helping to speed the recovery when the COVID-19 emergency phase is over,” he added. 

According to a recent report, nearly 33 per cent of business owners believe their business can survive less than a month under current conditions. 

In addition to these impacts, small business owners are facing a lot of uncertainty and thousands have been calling CFIB with questions,” Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice-president of national affairs for CFIB, said in the same release. 

The record of employment process is very onerous, especially if a business is forced to lay off all its staff at once. Businesses are looking for ways to keep their staff employed but reduce their operating costs so they can weather the massive disruption. Others want to know what the loss of their business means for them and their employees, how Employment Standards apply to this extraordinary situation and how to access the new government programs that were announced last week,” she continued. 

Additionally, CFIB is urging the government to consider: 

  • Simplifying and providing immediate access to EI Work-Sharing for all employers.
  • Ensuring that the self-employed receive some income support due to loss of income as a result of COVID-19.
  • Providing tax relief by deferring sales taxes, forgiving the payment of income, sales and payroll taxes for the next three months for those particularly hard hit, delaying all filing deadlines, and delaying upcoming carbon tax and CPP hikes.

While governments are working hard on the health emergency created by COVID-19, much more needs to be done to address the related economic emergency,” Kelly said. 

It is essential that governments move quickly to safeguard local jobs and our economy by putting in place measures that will allow businesses to survive these unprecedented circumstances,” he continued. 

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