Entrepreneurs concerned about looming changes to government aid for small businesses


Published March 3, 2021 at 12:33 am

Anthony Urciuoli/hamilton.insauga.com photo

Despite the fact the number of new COVID-19 cases is trending down, the latest modelling from the province indicates the numbers could see a spike again by the end of March.

While restrictions have started to ease for business (outside of Toronto and Peel Region), a significant spike in cases would likely mean another lockdown and/or more forced closures for businesses.

With more restrictions possibly looming, many entrepreneurs are concerned about the eligibility for the federal small business support programs, which is expected to change by mid-March.

As a result, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) is urging the Government of Canada to release the new criteria for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) before the new period begins on March 14.

“Small businesses are already facing an incredible amount of uncertainty with lockdowns and restrictions across the country, fears over the new variants of the virus and a shaky vaccine rollout,” Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice-president of National Affairs for CFIB, said in a news release.

“These support programs remain essential for their survival, so they need to know if they will still be able to rely on these programs to make operational decisions for their business,” she continued.

According to CFIB, 53 per cent of businesses are currently relying on CEWS, while 27 per cent are using CERS.

Additionally, CFIB is urging the government to extend the deadline to apply for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)—applications are set to expire on March 31—due to the fact many businesses continue to struggle with cash flow, and a significant number of entrepreneurs are still waiting to see if they will be eligible for the CEBA extension.

“Small businesses need to know that they will be able to access support for the coming months to cover rent and other fixed costs and keep their employees on payroll,” added Pohlmann. “Extending deadlines and providing some certainty around what is coming would be a big relief for many of them.”

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