Employers claim of CERB pain not borne out by their own survey



SPREADING BULLSHIT SHOULDN’T BE THIS EASY. The idea that the CERB payments are a drag on business recovery made the headlines. It’s pure bullshit. But it made the headlines because a news release from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said it’s true.

The fact the claim isn’t true, didn’t matter. The fact the CFIB survey itself reveals the claim isn’t true, didn’t matter. The fact the CFIB spin is so obvious and easy to spot, didn’t matter. The bogus CFIB claim made a good hook for a scary story and so it made the headlines.

So what?

Before the corporate hand wringing starts consider this. What if the claim were true? So what?

What if workers choose to do better for themselves when they get the chance? Isn’t that what bosses do for themselves. Isn’t that we’re all supposed to do for ourselves, all the time?

Employers aren’t in business to lose money. Workers don’t go to work to earn less. So, the CFIB demand that workers owe it to the rest of us to go to work and live on less is absurd on its face.

More holes than cheese

The Swiss cheese nature to the whole CFIB argument begins with the headline on their own press release. It reads: “More than one quarter of small firms report workers refusing to return to work; preference for CERB top reason given.”

Where’s the worry here? “More than one quarter of small firms report workers refusing to return to work” means three quarters have no problem. So, not exactly a “sky is falling” concern. A close look at the details of the survey reveal how little a concern it really is—beginning with the fact the "more than one quarter" claim is bogus. A note in the survey report itself says just 14% of businesses have actually had staff refuse to work because they prefer CERB.

But the number hardly matters. The truth revealed in the survey is that employers are doing just fine.

Nothing to see here

CFIB asked: “Is your business currently having a hard time finding the staff it needs to operate?” More answered NO than yes.

CFIB asked: “Have any of your staff, who were laid-off due to COVID-19, refused to return to work when recalled?” More answered NO than yes..

The CFIB survey of employers does report that a preference for receiving the (CERB) was the number one reason given by staff who did refuse to report for work when recalled. However, asking employers to accurately report on workers’ actions is like asking Colonel Sanders to report on the well being of his chickens.

The employers say the second most common reason workers gave for refusing to return to work was concern for their own health and a desire to protect their families.

The idea that workers are somehow using covid fears to gold brick was not supported. The survey reports the highest number of refusals come in the jobs at highest risk, such as in meatpacking, hospitality and food processing—all jobs identified as high-risk for COVID-19 transmission.

The CFIB made no secret of this whole “blame the workers” PR exercise. Their press release even made it a point to remind workers not to treat CERB as a way “to fund a summer break.”

The fact the CFIB could suggest the worst pandemic since the 1918 Spanish flu is for some a “summer break” should be enough to end any consideration of anything they have to say. But it didn’t and it won’t. More’s the pity.

- 30 -

CFIB COVID-19 survey

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.