Thousands of Small Businesses in Canada on the Brink with CEBA Repayment Deadline Due this Week [Video Interview]

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Thousands of Canadian businesses could be on the brink of closure with the upcoming January 18 deadline to repay their Canada Emergency Business Account loans. 

Dan Kelly

And it’s highly unlikely the federal government will provide small businesses more time to repay their loan in order to keep the forgivable portion.

“Following many conversations with government, I’m convinced there won’t be any last-minute extension to the current January 18 deadline,” said Dan Kelly, President of the CFIB

“For business owners who remain eligible, now is the time to repay if you possibly can. There’s only (a few days) left to repay the loan while securing the up to $20,000 forgivable portion. And with over 900,000 small businesses holding CEBA loans and 22 per cent not in a position to repay at this time, this decision has huge implications for Canada’s economy.”

In this video interview, Kelly talks about the situation and the consequences for businesses who can’t come up with the money to repay the loan as well as the consequences of business closures to the overall Canadian economy.

The CFIB said it has been flooded with calls from panicked small business owners who are struggling to repay their loans and getting inconsistent answers and little help from government and banks. 

According to the CFIB, here are a few things CEBA loan holders need to know:

  • If you are looking to borrow to repay your CEBA loan and keep the forgivable portion, you need to apply for a refinancing loan with the bank that issued your original CEBA loan before January 18, 2024, to qualify for a special extension to March 28, 2024. As bank staff often do not understand these rules, CFIB recommends small business owners ensure they document any requests or applications for refinancing;
  • If you are rejected for refinancing from your CEBA bank, you will still qualify for the extension to March 28, 2024, as long as your account is in good standing. This provides some extra time to look for alternative financing;
  • If you remain eligible but cannot repay or borrow to repay your loan, you will lose the forgivable portion, but you will have three years until the end of 2026 to repay the balance at five per cent interest; and
  • For approximately 50,000 small businesses that have been deemed ineligible for the loan they received and spent, they have already passed their deadline of December 31, 2023 and have lost access to the forgivable portion. Collection efforts will begin in the spring of 2024. After extensive pressure from CFIB, the government announced it will provide new flexibility for these cases, including up to a two-year repayment period with no penalties and five per cent interest.
Corinne Pohlmann

“With the increase in payroll taxes (EI and CPP) on January 1, this is not a good start to 2024 for small businesses. This is all the more reason for Ottawa to reduce the cost of doing business and alleviate some of the cost pressures facing small firms. The federal government can start by returning the $2.5 billion in carbon tax revenue it promised to small businesses as soon as possible,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Executive Vice-President of Advocacy at CFIB.

The Video Interview Series by Retail Insider is available on YouTube.

Interviewed this episode:

  • Dan Kelly

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Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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