With some key federal COVID-19 support programs set to expire in less than two weeks, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is urging the federal government to extend and adjust its aid.

The CFIB represents almost 100,000 small and medium-sized businesses across Canada, many of whom, it said, continue to rely on federal support programs.

"Businesses need certainty as so many are still dodging constant curveballs with a slow pick-up in revenues, labour shortages, and wariness around ongoing restrictions in the months ahead," said Corrine Pohlmann, senior vice-president of national affairs at CFIB, in a release Tuesday.

“No business owner expects government support forever, but they need to know they have something to rely on until all restrictions are lifted, and they can fully operate their business once again. They can't afford for the government to dawdle until the last minute.”

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) are scheduled to expire Oct. 23. In a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland dated. Oct. 6 and released publicly Tuesday, the CFIB called for the immediate extension of those two programs until Nov. 20 at minimum, and requested the federal government commence work on legislation that could extend the programs even further.

Other requests highlighted in the letter include expanding eligibility for CEWS and CERS to include new businesses that opened after the pandemic hit, helping business owners cover costs associated with vaccine passports, as well as new funding rounds through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), and delaying the repayment deadline for those interest-free loans to 2024.

The CFIB is also requesting changes to the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) to ensure no one is earning more than they were prior to the pandemic. In the letter to Freeland, the group said CRB “is contributing to a growing shortage of part-time labour availability across Canada.”

According to the most recent polling from the CFIB, only 40 per cent of small businesses are generating what it describes as normal sales, while fewer than half are fully staffed.

"The end of the pandemic may be in sight for some, but business owners are just not there yet. Small businesses will take an average of two years to recover from the pandemic. Pulling support at such a critical moment in their recovery would be a huge misstep.” said Pohlmann.