CEBA and CEWS well used by businesses – CECRA, not so much

by Stephen Dafoe

Uptake on the  Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) have been strong with more than half taking advantage of CEWS and two out of three taking advantage of CEBA. However, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says only 15 per cent of small business tenants have used the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.

“While it took a long time, the government listened to small business owners’ concerns with CEWS and made helpful adjustments to key elements that weren’t working,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly, “To its credit, government did twice expand access to the CEBA loan program, which has provided a critical lifeline to hundreds of thousands of businesses. Unfortunately, progress appears to have stopped as far too many firms remain unable to access CEBA loans, despite a mid-May promise by the Prime Minister to extend these loans to new firms and those without business bank accounts.”

But CECRA is another story, one CFIB says is not working for tenants or landlords and no changes have been made since implementation.“Sadly, only 20 per cent of small firms are satisfied with CECRA as the federal and provincial governments have not yet agreed to allow a pathway for tenants to get direct rent support if their landlord doesn’t participate.”

CFIB has called on the government to expand CEBA access to more firms, including those with less than $40,000 in deferrable expenses, new businesses and those without business bank accounts. They also want the government to expand CEBA to $60,000 with 50 per cent of the loan forgiven upon repayment of the balance.

With respect to CECRA, they have called on the feds to allow tenants to access CECRA rent support directly, regardless of their landlord’s participation, and to provide a sliding scale of rent support under CECRA for those with various levels of revenue losses over the months ahead. The latter is something they did with CEWS.


“We estimate that Canada could lose between 55,000 and 218,000 small businesses as a result of COVID-19 related failures in the months ahead. These programs could be the difference between the best and worst case scenario so it is incumbent on government to continue to listen to small business owners and modify the programs accordingly. Time is running out,” Kelly said.


% using program

% rated very/somewhat helpful

Business Loan (CEBA)



Wage Subsidy (CEWS)



Rent Subsidy (CECRA)



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