Upwards of 90% of small businesses want governments to provide hardship grants to help cover rent and other costs and help them deal with their mounting debt according to new survey results by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) taken over the long weekend and released today.
Most have seen a dramatic drop in revenue with one in five saying revenues have dropped to zero.
“The risk of otherwise healthy businesses failing is getting worse by the day as bills are piling up with little or no revenue coming in,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president. “We’re asking provincial governments to flatten the curve on small business failure with hardship grants for rent.
“We are really encouraged that the federal government is looking at new support for commercial rent as the $10,000 forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account is helpful, but many don’t qualify and even if they do, it only goes so far. We continue to recommend expanding eligibility criteria for CEBA so more can qualify.”
CFIB is recommending that provinces create provincial hardship grants of up to $5,000 a month for as long as COVID shutdowns last, including the month of April. Two provinces, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, are already providing one-time grants for small businesses based on 15% of a business’s monthly sales revenue, up to a maximum of $5,000.
“Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan each have a form of hardship money available and we applaud them for it,” said Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice-president of national affairs at CFIB. “We would like to see other provinces adopt the Saskatchewan model and making grants widely available to all small businesses, especially vulnerable sectors such as retail, hospitality and personal services.”
Other notable survey results include:
- 85% of businesses think the situation will get worse for their business before it gets better
- 80% are worried about cash flow
- Average small business rent is $10,000 a month (with a wide range around this number)
- 75% think businesses that can respect social distancing and provide protection for employees should be allowed to reopen.
CFIB has also called for a 25% reduction in annual property taxes and eviction protection for commercial tenants otherwise in good standing for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Small businesses take no joy in asking for government help, but we are in extraordinary circumstances. Without more lifelines too many otherwise healthy businesses will be left drowning in debt,” said Jones.
Read the full survey results for more details.