Half of Canadian small business owners say they won’t make next month’s rent payment without additional help, according to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) survey published Wednesday.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents to the survey conducted over the weekend said their very survival depends on more rent relief, with that response being as high as 80 per cent in the arts and recreation sector.  

​"The closer we get to June 1, the more stressful things are getting and the more business failures we will see," said CFIB Executive Vice-President Laura Jones in a release. “We're begging governments to move quickly to create additional help outside of CECRA [​Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance].”

The CECRA program, introduced last month by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, aims to lower rent by 75 per cent for businesses facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 for April, May and June.

But some say that’s not enough. The CFIB is calling for the government to increase the forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to cover the CECRA shortfall.

Sixty-seven per cent of survey respondents agree more of the CEBA should be forgivable, while a similar number (65 per cent) said the government has been too slow to provide rent relief.

The survey results come a day after Ontario Premier Doug Ford delivered a bold warning to commercial landlords.

“Nothing drives me more crazy than greedy landlords taking advantage of people and small business owners that are just trying to keep their head above water,” Ford said during a news conference Tuesday.

“These big landlords want to take advantage of small little companies and people that are struggling? I'm going to come down on them like they've never seen before.”