Canadian Plastics

One in four small businesses still negatively affected by slow return to office, CFIB says

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Sixty per cent of small business owners agreed that government and big business should increase their efforts to get their workers back to downtown cores, CFIB said.

Roughly one in four (24%) small business owners’ revenues are currently impacted by a slow return to the office by downtown workers despite the lifting of COVID restrictions, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The impact is even more significant for certain sectors like hospitality (46%), personal services (31%), enterprises and administrative management (29%), and retail (28%).

“The pandemic caused many businesses and governments to transition to a hybrid work model, leaving many downtown cores empty. Many local businesses rely on workers returning to in-person work,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’s senior vice president of national affairs. “At a time when only 40% of businesses are making normal revenues and 65% are dealing with pandemic-related debt, consumer spending is more important now than ever.”

Overall, three in five (60%) small business owners said that government and big business should increase their efforts to get their workers back to downtown cores; and this figure jumps to over four in five businesses (84%) among those whose revenues have been impacted by a lack of workers in downtown cores.


Many businesses, such as retail and hospitality, are looking to the approaching warm season to boost their sales and revenues. With a lack of customers and major federal COVID support programs ending May 7, many businesses will struggle to make it through.

“Programs like the Canada Recovery Hiring Program are retroactive, meaning applications will be accepted up to 180 days after the end of a claim period. However, business expenses beyond May 7 will not be covered,” Pohlmann said. “The lack of financial relief and consumer demand may lead to more businesses struggling to make ends meet and some may end up winding down their operations.”
CFIB said that it is continuing to petition the government to help small businesses reduce their COVID debt burdens by increasing the forgivable portion of their CEBA loan to at least 50% and extending the repayment deadline for an additional year.


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