CFIB welcomes federal extension to expanded lockdown benefits

CFIB requests Deputy Prime Minister of Canada to extend assistance

CFIB welcomes federal extension to expanded lockdown benefits

News of the federal government's decision to extend the temporary expansion of the Local Lockdown Program's through March 12 was met with approval by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The measure permits any business with a 50% capacity restriction to receive pay assistance at the same level as fully locked-down businesses, lowers the revenue loss threshold to 25% over the previous month, and increases rent subsidies. Originally, the temporary expansion was set to expire this weekend.

As several provinces are only now replacing lockdowns with 50% capacity limitations, CFIB has urged Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to extend this support. Only 65% of small firms are completely operational, only 42% are fully staffed, and only 30% of revenues are back to pre-pandemic levels. As they wait for the limitations to be lifted, many firms will be able to plan for the weeks ahead thanks to the federal government’s announcement.

However, some firms continue to fall through the cracks of existing federal programs. According to CFIB, the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) has not reached many businesses that have been harmed by continued restrictions in the events, tourism, and hospitality industries. The businesses that have been left behind include hotel soap makers, pet boarding services, ice sculptors, and thousands of other enterprises that supply or support restricted industries.

CFIB is urging the federal government to expand the THRP to include businesses that rely on tourism, hospitality, or events as part of their operations.

It is also calling for other modifications to the federal support programs, such as:

  • Reintroducing the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program with a new loan amount of $80,000 and a 50% forgivable portion;
  • Returning wage and rent subsidies to the levels utilized in spring 2021: a sliding scale as a percentage of revenue losses up to a maximum of 75%, made available to all businesses; and
  • Expanding all business support programs to include new enterprises that started after the pandemic began.

“Many provinces are beginning to rapidly dismantle many of the COVID restrictions, including lockdowns, capacity restrictions and vaccine passport systems,” said CFIB President Dan Kelly. “This is welcome news, but the reality is that until public health officials and governments can encourage consumers to return to dining, theatre and travel, the COVID fear factor will be enough to keep many Canadians at home. Until then, businesses are going to need some degree of support.”