Small business owners believe it’s possible to protect the environment and grow the economy at the same time

Small Business Canada

New CFIB report outlines 10 guiding principles to create environmental policies with small businesses in mind

Small business owners are taking steps to make their operations more environmentally friendly, but they’re facing barriers on their path to go greener, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

In 2022, over half (53%) of business owners said there were simply higher priority issues that their business had to address first. This barrier has increased by nearly 40 percentage points since 2020.

“Small business owners have a lot weighing on them right now, from pandemic-related debt and skyrocketing costs to difficulty finding workers,” said Jasmin Guenette, Vice-President of National Affairs at CFIB. “It’s important that policy makers consider the current state of small business and how environmental policies and regulations will impact small businesses and the economy as a whole in the months ahead.”

The second largest barrier for 37% of businesses was uncertainty around whether any change they make will make a meaningful difference for the environment. Three in ten (32%) owners also said government grant programs were too complicated to use.

When a new environmental policy is developed without small businesses in mind, the implications can be huge. For example:

  • Small businesses are hit the hardest by the carbon tax. They pay close to half of the carbon tax revenue collected by the government, but they don’t get the same amount back like individuals and households do through rebates.
  • The national single-use plastics ban can add complications to businesses having to source new and sometimes more expensive alternatives. Small businesses estimate it will cost them on average $6,605 to adhere to the single-use plastics ban in the first year after it is introduced.
  • The federal government is also proposing regulations that will require at least 20% of new vehicles sold in Canada to be zero emission by 2026, at least 60% by 2030, and 100% by 2035. This change could cause issues for businesses operating in remote and cold areas.

Most (74%) small business owners believe that it is possible to grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time. In fact, almost two-thirds (64%) of small business owners said that recycling materials, from excess product packaging to shipping paper, was the most important environmental issue to their business. Over half (59%) of business owners said reducing waste was an important environmental issue, followed by clean water and sewage treatment (44%) and preservation of natural environments (40%).

CFIB’s new report, entitled Working Together: Developing Environmental Policy with Small Business in Mindoutlines 10 guiding principles and provides recommendations for the federal government on how to ensure that its environmental policies work for small business, including:

  • Environmental policies should support the principle that it is possible to grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time
  • Government should take an evidence-based approach when implementing new environmental policies and carefully consider any potential impacts on small business and the economy prior to implementation
  • Government should consider the current state of small business and the economy when developing environmental policies. A small business lens should be applied to all environmental policies to ensure minimal impact on small business’ operations
  • Government should lower the cost of doing business and reduce tax burden on small businesses, so they can invest in green technology and other environmental initiatives

“Small businesses are already taking actions to go greener in their operations whether it’s going paperless or reducing waste, but they will need additional support from government if more environmental regulations are proposed,” said Taylor Brown, CFIB’s senior policy analyst. “It’s difficult for small businesses to invest in a growing number of environmental initiatives if their primary concern is to just stay afloat. Any government measures should benefit small business’ environmental practices without adding more costs or increasing their overall tax burden.”

About CFIB

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 97,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Independent Business

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