“The CEBA program has been incredibly helpful to over 900,000 small businesses as it has provided an interest-free loan of $40-60,000 to help them through the pandemic. One of the most important features was that $10-20,000 of the loan would be canceled by the government when the balance was paid off, allowing the company to pay off some of the debt that many were forced to take on to survive. blockages and restrictions,” Corinne said. Pohlmann, Senior Vice President, National Affairs and CFIB. “Unfortunately, thousands of small businesses are now being contacted by their financial institutions demanding that they repay their CEBA loan in full by the end of 2023, as they have now been deemed ineligible in the first place.”
“It is deeply unfair to force small businesses that have received a government guaranteed loan in good faith to lose one of its key benefits,” said Dan Kelly, President of CFIB. “While businesses have had time to provide more information to qualify, it appears the government has forgotten that many are fighting every day for the very survival of their businesses during lockdowns and restrictions. Getting businesses that applied for and received funds to repay the full amount will push some over the edge given the huge debt burden many have racked up due to the pandemic.
Except in the case of pure and simple fraud, the CFIB asks the government to allow any company that has received a CEBA loan to keep the forgivable part when repaying the balance. At a minimum, the government must ensure that there is a new process for businesses to requalify and deal with cases of extreme hardship.
Since emerging from COVID, small businesses have faced high input costs, inflation, labor shortages and supply chain issues. The latest data from CFIB’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard shows that 58% of small businesses are still earning less than their normal income and 64% have pandemic debt averaging $144,000.
Throughout the pandemic, the government has made changes to its programs to deal with the changing nature of the pandemic. Small businesses were pleased that the government had heeded CFIB’s earlier advice in allowing all CEBA recipients to repay the loan by the end of 2023, rather than the earlier deadline of December 31, 2022. CFIB urges the government to continue this approach by making the following changes:
- Ensure that all recipients of a CEBA loan who received it in good faith but are now deemed ineligible can keep the forgivable portion if they repay the loan by the end of 2023
- Increase the repayable portion of all CEBA loans to at least 50%
- Extend the CEBA loan repayment deadline for an additional year until December 2024
“Implementing these recommendations will help ensure that more businesses are able to collect and repay their loan balances in full,” Kelly concluded.
Business owners can add their voice to CFIB’s petition and call on the government to expand and extend CEBA loans for businesses.
For media or interview requests, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members in all sectors and regions. 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. To learn more, visit ffic.ca.