Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses

On September 17, 2020, the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses (CHHB) launched a campaign calling on the federal government to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program at the full 75% rate for businesses facing an ongoing revenue decline of 50% or higher, and extend the program until Spring/Summer 2021. The CHHB is an industry-driven group of over 50 stakeholders representing a variety of sectors including tourism, arts and culture, events and festivals, and hospitality.


“In the COVID-19 pandemic, our businesses were the first shut down, and we will be the last to recover – in short, we are the hardest hit businesses,” said Charlotte Bell, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. “Our sectors will bounce back when COVID is behind us, but this fall we face bankruptcy and unemployment for over 2 million Canadians working in our sectors.”


On July 17, the federal government announced it would make the wage subsidy program more accessible for the summer months and then wind it down over the autumn. Beginning on September 26, the amount of wage subsidy funding for all businesses – including the hardest hit businesses experiencing revenue declines of over 50% — will decrease until the subsidy is eliminated entirely in December.


“With COVID restrictions ongoing but government support fading, many of the hardest hit businesses will not survive and those jobs will be gone forever,” added Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada. “Our people are one of the most diverse workforces in the country. In the hotel sector alone, women make up 60% of total employees, millennials make up 38%, immigrants represent 31%, and visible minorities make up 29%. These are the groups that the Bank of Canada identified as being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and who need additional protection and support. The best and most empowering way to support these workers is to allow them to keep their jobs.”


“We expected a slight bump in revenues during the summer months as economic activity returned –  but that ended along with summer family travel in September,” said Keith Henry, President and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. “The CEWS program is the most accessible and successful of the government programs, and was critical to keeping Canada’s Indigenous people employed during the pandemic. We need this program to be extended through Spring 2021 at the full 75% rate to keep people employed.”


“Meetings, events, and festivals have all been cancelled for 2020, and many will not be rescheduled until at least 2022 – that’s tens of billions in economic activity that has vanished overnight,” added Martin Roy, Executive Director of Major Events and Festivals Canada. “We have all complied with safety measures, and support the actions the government has taken to flatten the curve. Canadians came together to support employment with the wage subsidy before, and we need to keep that support up for our hardest hit businesses.”


To learn more about the CHHB and to get involved, visit