TORONTO -- The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates that a total of $117 billion of new debt has been loaded onto small businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national association based its estimates on an online survey of small business owners from June 26 to July 2.

About 2,100 of the survey's 4,502 respondents agreed to reveal how much debt they'd incurred due to COVID-19.

On average, the small businesses that provided information for the CFIB survey had $135,000 in debt for a total of nearly $285.4 million.

The CFIB estimates that would result in $117 billion of total COVID-related debt for small business as a whole, based on Statistics Canada's count of small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada.

The 110,000-member association also estimates that 58 per cent of small businesses have re-opened fully, 35 per cent are back to full staffing but only 24 per cent are back to normal revenue.

According to the polling industry's generally accepted standards, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2020