A sad day for small business: CFIB statement on the CEBA repayment deadline

Toronto, January 19, 2024 – Today is a sad day for many Canadian small business owners.  An estimated 200,000 small businesses woke up even deeper in pandemic debt than they were on Thursday.

It is a sad finding that an additional $20,000 in debt could mean the end of a Canadian business, but that is where CFIB research tells us so many are at nearly four years after the pandemic began.

Small businesses didn’t take on these loans because they wanted to nor because they were foolish business owners making bad decisions. They took on this debt at the start of a worldwide pandemic when governments ordered them to close in order to protect society. At the time, governments said they needed a few weeks to flatten the curve and economists predicted pent-up demand would create booming economic times following the end of restrictions.

Instead, Canada had the longest lockdowns in the world, with restaurants and gyms shut tight for up to 430 days over a two-year period in some parts of Canada.

The post-pandemic spending spree never materialized for small businesses. It was replaced with inflation and massive cost hikes on every line of a business’ budget. Today, only half of small businesses are back to pre-pandemic levels of sales.

I am very worried about what the next few months hold for Canadian small business owners as the reality of their increased debt level takes hold.

I urge Canadians to do all they can to support the small, independently owned and operated businesses in their communities. I urge governments to right the ship and drop any plans to increase small business costs, such as the April 1 federal hikes in carbon and liquor taxes. A good start would be a decision on the part of the federal government to return the $2.5 billion in fuel taxes it has been sitting on since 2019 despite promises to return it to small business.

Today is a sad day for many small businesses. Let's do all we can to help. 
-    Dan Kelly, President and CEO, CFIB

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 97,000 members across every industry and region. 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. Learn more at cfib.ca.