Business owners worried about qualifying for wage subsidy

By Maddie Johnson | April 6, 2020 | Last updated on April 6, 2020
2 min read
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Small business owners have mixed reactions to the federal wage subsidy, according to a new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is designed to help businesses cover up to 75% of wages and keep their employees on payroll.

The CFIB survey found that 29% of small business owners said the subsidy would help, while 37% said it wouldn’t and 21% said they’re still unsure.

Among those who said the subsidy would help, 44% said it would allow them to retain some staff and 35% said it would allow them to retain all staff. More than one-quarter, (29%) said it would help them recall some laid-off staff, while 9% said the subsidy would allow them to recall all previously laid-off employees.

For the 37% who said the subsidy wouldn’t help, a plurality (38%) said it’s too late and layoffs can’t easily be reversed (38%), while 30% said they can’t wait up to six weeks to receive the aid.

Others worried they wouldn’t be able to prove a 30% revenue drop to qualify (21%); that they wouldn’t qualify for other reasons (17%); or that the wage support wouldn’t be enough to retain jobs (17%).

“The vast majority of small businesses have been deeply affected by Covid-19. They are worried for their employees and about their ability to ever reopen,” CFIB president Dan Kelly said in a statement.

“Right now, we need to quickly put in place the measures that will allow us to preserve our small businesses and keep them connected to their employees so we can recover once the crisis is over.”

The CFIB recommends several options to address the challenges, including eliminating or reducing the 30% drop in revenue test for small and medium-sized businesses and for businesses ordered by governments to fully or partially close.

The report reveals results from an online survey that began on Apr. 3, 2020 with responses from 8,892 small businesses across Canada. The survey is still active and the results are still preliminary.

Read the full survey results for more details.

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Maddie Johnson

Maddie is a freelance writer and editor who has been reporting for since 2019.