More than 30,000 businesses call on Ottawa to delay CEBA repayment deadline

Under-pressure SMEs are facing a significant expense at the end of 2023 unless policymakers extend the deadline

More than 30,000 businesses call on Ottawa to delay CEBA repayment deadline
Steve Randall

Canada’s small and medium business owners are getting increasingly concerned about a major expense coming their way at the end of this year.

The end of the forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) of up to $20,000 means that those businesses that have not repaid the loans they received to help them through the pandemic will face 5% interest on the entire amount they owe.

More than 30,000 business owners have now signed a petition from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business urging Ottawa to extend the repayment deadline along with other improvements to the pandemic support.

“We’re not asking for total loan forgiveness—just more time,” Corinne Pohlmann, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. “If businesses are forced to close because of their pandemic debt, government will not be able to recoup that money. It’s a win-win situation if businesses are allowed more time to repay.”

Forced to close

CFIB’s research shows that one-fifth of all businesses in Canada—nearly 250,000 small businesses—could be at risk of closing their doors next year unless the federal government changes the deadline.

“Small businesses have to deal with high interest rates, inflation and shortages of labour. Most recently, many were hit by the supply chain disruptions caused by the strike at BC ports. They’re suffering one blow after another. How much more do they need to endure before Ottawa realizes it needs to extend the CEBA loan repayment deadline to provide some reprieve?” said Christina Santini, Director of National Affairs at CFIB.