PLANT

Small business owners rank government aid programs

While CEBA, CEWS well used, CECRA continues to fall short, according to CFIB

August 10, 2020   by PLANT STAFF

TORONTO — While more than half of small businesses have used the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and three out of five have used the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), the government’s rent assistance program remains underutilized, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Only 15% of small business tenants have used the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.

% using program

% rated very/somewhat helpful

Business Loan (CEBA)

60

69

Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

55

67

Rent Subsidy (CECRA)

15

20

“While it took a long time, the government listened to small business owners’ concerns with CEWS and made helpful adjustments to key elements that weren’t working,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB president, in a prepared statement. “To its credit, government did twice expand access to the CEBA loan program, which has provided a critical lifeline to hundreds of thousands of businesses. Unfortunately, progress appears to have stopped as far too many firms remain unable to access CEBA loans, despite a mid-May promise by the Prime Minister to extend these loans to new firms and those without business bank accounts.”

“CECRA is another story. It’s not working for anyone—tenants or landlords—yet no major changes have been made to the program since it was announced, beyond an extension to July and August,” Kelly added.

“CEBA and the wage subsidy are well used by Canada’s SMEs and are viewed as being very or somewhat helpful by more than two-thirds,” Kelly said. “Only 20% of small firms are satisfied with CECRA as the federal and provincial governments have not yet agreed to allow a pathway for tenants to get direct rent support if their landlord doesn’t participate.”

CFIB urged the government to make critical changes to CEBA and CECRA, including:

  • Expanding CEBA access to more firms, including those with less than $40,000 in non-deferrable expenses, new businesses and those without business bank accounts
  • Providing clear reasons for any CEBA rejections and personal support
  • Expanding CEBA to $60,000 with 50% of the loan forgiven upon repayment of the balance
  • Allowing tenants to access CECRA rent support directly, regardless of landlord participation
  • Providing rent support under CECRA for those with various levels of revenue losses over the months ahead, as has happened with CEWS
  • Simplifying wage subsidy rules and allowing business owners and family members earning dividends to have a limited portion covered

“We estimate that Canada could lose between 55,000 and 218,000 small businesses as a result of COVID-19 related failures in the months ahead. These programs could be the difference between the best and worst case scenario so it is incumbent on government to continue to listen to small business owners and modify the programs accordingly. Time is running out,” added Kelly.


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