While CFIB recognizes and supports the need for many special measures to respond to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, including paid sick time, there are serious concerns that need to be fully considered prior to any introduction of permanent paid sick time provisions.
In ordinary times, paid sick time holds many implications for small businesses, including who will cover the costs and how society will ensure sick time is used appropriately. Most small business owners do their best to work out formal or informal solutions that work for both the business and its employees. Small firms are already bracing for a significant increase in Employment Insurance premiums to cover the cost of the higher levels of unemployment we expect to continue as the CERB benefits are removed from the system. This, together with the current plans for several additional years of CPP/QPP premium increases, means payroll taxes will be rising rapidly at a time of high unemployment. Small business owners just cannot be expected to take on any additional costs at this time.
CFIB urges federal and provincial governments and all parties to ensure that we do not make COVID-19 related response measures permanent until we return to normal times and debate both the intended and unintended consequences. Given the provincial role in setting employment standards rules for most small firms, special care is needed to ensure that the federal government does not create another confusing policy environment as we are experiencing with the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program.
– Dan Kelly, President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)