The CEBA program offered interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2023 will result in loan forgiveness of up to 33 percent (up to $20,000). Despite their best efforts, high interest rates, inflation, and increased labour costs are making it difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to operate at full capacity, hire the necessary staff, pay down their debts and recover.
Almost 900,000 CEBA loans were approved across Canada. Many businesses had no choice but to take on this loan due to circumstances beyond their control. This includes businesses in some of the hardest hit industries such as the retail industry and tourism sector. Mandatory business closures and other government health restrictions left businesses with severe income losses and cash flow issues.
Recent surveys that focussed on CEBA loan-holder companies reveal that:
Unless the federal government acts quickly to postpone the CEBA repayment deadline, businesses that are unable to repay their CEBA loan in time will lose access to the forgivable portion of up to $20,000, thus further increasing their debt load. Extending the repayment timeline for the CEBA loan without losing access to the forgivable portion would give many small and medium size businesses the stability and certainty they need to get back on their feet on a path to prosperity.
In addition to the many organizations across Canada, The Heart of Orléans BIA, the Ottawa Coalition of BIAs (OCOBIA) and the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) are all advocating for an extension of the repayment timeline without losing access to the forgivable portion so these businesses have the opportunity to get back on their feet.
Ottawa needs to act now to extend the CEBA repayment deadline. OCOBIA and OBIAA created a template that you can use to send to your local MP regarding extending the CEBA Loan deadline to the end of 2024 (even better 2025) to alleviate significant issues businesses will be facing in repayment. (CEBA loan repayment extension request letter template is here.) Business owners are encouraged to use the letter copy to send to their respective MP. Timing is urgent as the caucus begins early budgetary discussions and submission requests in August. Here is the link to share with business members (French is in progress!) You can help by writing a letter to your MP, writing a letter to Minister Freeland and/or signing the CFIB petition here: https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/petition/national-petition-ceba-loans