“Staffing is one of the many challenges for small businesses trying to get back to normal,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “More than a quarter (27 per cent) of small firms report that some of their laid-off staff have refused to return to work when recalled.”
The CFIB survey indicates that of those member businesses who have had staff refuse to return to work, the top reasons reported is that they prefer to stay on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) (62%) or they prefer the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) (11%).
CERB and CESB were not the only factors for employees being unwilling to return for work. Other survey responses included:
- They are concerned about their own physical health or that of their family (47 per cent)
- They are concerned about childcare obligations (27 per cent)
- They do not feel there are enough hours or work available (16 per cent)
- They are concerned about taking public transportation (7 per cent)
“It is clear that CERB has created a disincentive to return to work for some staff, especially in industries like hospitality and personal services,” Kelly said. “CERB was created as emergency support for workers who had lost their job due to the pandemic, not to fund a summer break. This is why it is critical that all parties support the government’s proposed change to end CERB benefits when an employer asks a worker to return to work.”
CFIB has been lobbying the government to make changes to federal aid programs, so workers can safely transition from CERB to work using the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) as a step towards unsubsidized employment.
They have called on the government to allow more businesses to participate in CEWS by removing or reducing the 30 per cent revenue drop test or by creating a sliding scale to allow those with lower revenue drops to access a smaller subsidy. They’ve also asked the government to continue CERB benefits for those who need them, but requiring recipients to be available and looking for work, and ensuring benefits stop if a worker is offered a new job or their old job back, unless they or a family member are sick.