A quarter of Canadian small businesses say their workers refuse to return to work: survey – National


National association representing small business owners says about one-quarter of recently surveyed employers have seen staff refuse to return to work when asked – and group says desire to continue receiving Canadian benefit emergency response plays a big role.Among companies that had employees who refused them, the main reasons cited included a preference for CERB (62%), health problems (47%) and childcare problems (27%), according to the results a weekly survey that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business conducted among its members between July 3 and 6.

“The staff said, ‘I’m a little worried about going back to work, I have child care issues, my bills are paid by CERB, so I’m just going to stick with CERB for the rest of summer and call me in September, “said Dan Kelly, President and CEO of the CFIB, in an interview.

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“This is a very typical response we got from the members. “

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There are just under 1.2 million small and medium-sized businesses in Canada, according to government figures at the end of 2019, of which the CFIB represents approximately 110,000.

According to the results of the group’s recent survey, 3,389 respondents answered the question whether one of their dismissed employees refused to return to work after being recalled. CFIB says 27% said yes.

CFIB results suggest that 14% of all businesses have seen their employees refuse to return to work because they prefer to stay on the CERB, an emergency benefit of $ 2,000 a month that the federal government has deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

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Although Kelly acknowledged that CERB is not the only reason given by employees for reluctance to return to work, he said it was the most frequently cited reason for “surprising” him.

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« What it tells me is that CERB … is certainly, for some, tipping the scales in favor of staying off and for others, that’s why they stay off, “said Kelly.

Parisa Mahboubi, senior policy analyst at the CD Howe Institute, said the type of work sought could be part of the challenge. She noted that in many industries, only part-time work was to be gained.

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“This is something I was anticipating … just a few months ago, when we started talking about opening up the economy,” she said.

“The reason is that people who receive CERB do not have this incentive to seek employment, given the current characteristics of this CERB program.”

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However, the conclusion of the survey that 14% of companies have seen their employees refuse to return because they prefer to stay at CERB shows that the problem is not “widespread”, said economist Armine Yalnizyan.

« This is not a widespread phenomenon and CERB is not a huge obstacle to work. It helps people not to return to unsafe working conditions, “said Yalnizyan, who is the Atkinson Fellow on the future of workers at the Atkinson Foundation in Toronto.

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According to the results of the CFIB survey, the main industries that reported having difficulty finding enough staff to operate were the hotel, construction and agricultural industries.

« Tits makes perfect sense, “said Yalnizyan. ” These are problems that we have read in the newspapers as dangerous workplaces, places where contagion occurs again.

“So is it reasonable that people are a little hesitant to come back and even in these cases, only a quarter of them?” Yes, I think it’s pretty reasonable. “

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Colin Busby, director of research at the Institute for Research on Public Policy, said there was still not enough data available to “really assess the full effect of the benefit of emergency response as a potentially disincentive to work ”.

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“But I think it is probably, at the same time, fair to conclude that we have to look at how it was designed in a way that considers it a likely possibility for a number of workers, and think about how we will proceed for the next iteration or whatever the future of CERB is, ”said Busby in an interview in Montreal.

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The Liberal government is trying to change the CERB rules so that a person does not qualify for the benefit if they do not return to work “when it is reasonable to do so” and their employer has asked them to do so, or if it turns down “a reasonable job offer” when they are able to work.

However, the government bill was not passed in June as planned and remains stuck in the legislative process.

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As the expected end of CERB approaches, politicians, economists and stakeholders have proposed different ways to realign the benefits offered by Ottawa in order to bring more people to work or to switch to the Canada Wage Subsidy. Emergency (AIAC) for businesses – which covers up to 75 percent of wages (up to a maximum of $ 847 per week) for workers in eligible businesses.

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For now, the government has extended the CERB program, as is, until the end of September.

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In the meantime, the CFIB hopes that the government will soon announce how it could modify the federal wage subsidy program.

Before the government’s “fiscal snapshot” was released on July 8, Finance Minister Bill Morneau spent weeks collecting comments from businesses, worker groups and other stakeholders on how the subsidy could be reshaped to improve adoption.

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The CEWS was first extended throughout the summer, then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier this week that Ottawa would keep it running until December. But Trudeau did not discuss the program’s eligibility rules.

While this extension is good news, Kelly noted that the government has still not released the eligibility requirements for the wage subsidy program beyond June, although it is now mid-July.

“So employers don’t know for the subsidy period right now if they are eligible for the wage subsidy or not,” said Kelly.

“This is also one of the reasons why only one-third of employers in Canada – 34 percent – have brought back all their workers.”

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Global News asked Morneau’s office when the wage subsidy criteria for July and August would be announced and how the government planned to reshape the eligibility rules for the rest of the program. No response was received before the deadline, but Global News will update this story if a response is received.

In retrospect, Kelly said that some of the challenges facing businesses and workers could have been avoided if the government had acted faster to roll out the wage subsidy program.

« Unfortunately… because the CERB (took place) faster than the wage subsidy, the employers really had no choice but to fire their workers at that time, ”he said.

“And as a result, once we have broken this working relationship, it now takes a lot to try to lay the egg here and get the employees back to work. “

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– With files from the Canadian Press

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