Canada's NDP


April 29th, 2020

Letter to Minister Ng Calling for More Support to Sole-Proprietors

Dear Minister,

I’m writing to you in my capacity as NDP critic for Small Business and Tourism to express my deep concern over the lack of support for self-employed individuals and sole-proprietors across Canada. In my home province of British Columbia, one-third of small businesses don’t believe they’ll qualify for the support that the government has given. This is especially true for businesses with less than 5 employees, of which nearly half don’t qualify for government support.

Several sole-proprietors have reached out to me personally for help because of the lack of assistance available to them. Many do not qualify for the business supports because they do not meet the payroll requirements, they rely on contract workers, are family-owned, or pay themselves in dividends. Your government has designed the current programs to exclude them. They cannot access the loan, wage-subsidy, or work-share programs. The only support they may qualify for is the individual CERB, which is not enough to get by with the overhead costs these businesses must continue to pay.

Simply put, the government is failing businesses owners and job creators and must take immediate action to correct this oversight.

There are several changes that your government can make to support sole-proprietors, including:

  • Modify the qualification criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to be based on gross revenue instead of payroll so that businesses that rely on contract work can apply. As GST collection is directly related to gross revenue, this will help the government measure their risk based on the amount collected;
  • Use gross revenue as a measurement, and work with financial institutions to offer scaled loans and non-repayable grants for businesses at different levels of development and need. This would allow those businesses with some income who currently don’t qualify to receive support based on their specific needs;
  • Work with the provinces and territories to put a moratorium on evictions, ensuring that all small businesses have time to understand and apply for the supports available to them. New announcements are coming daily, and without time to understand how they can be used, businesses won’t be able to make fully-informed decisions about their futures;
  • Modify the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) to be more inclusive of businesses that don’t qualify under current requirements.

These businesses provide crucial community services, add to the vibrancy of their communities, ensure that money stays in the local economy, and contribute to the well-being of their neighbours. If sole-proprietors are not able to get support, not only will they be forced to shut down, but their communities will suffer as well.

By changing the qualifying conditions for sole-proprietors, these small businesses can get the help they need now. Businesses have waited for too long, and despite other supports announced for businesses they are still being left behind.

Rent is due for May and many small businesses remain ineligible for the supports you have announced for others. The Government of Canada must recognize, encourage, and support sole-proprietorships in this country.

You cannot continue to exclude them from getting help during this crisis.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your response.


Gord Johns

Member of Parliament for Courtenay-Alberni