Federal Fall Economic Statement fails to address key small business concerns, especially CEBA extension

Toronto, November 21, 2023 - The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is deeply disappointed the federal government’s 2023 Fall Economic Statement did not include any measures to help small businesses deal with the current challenges they are facing, notably by further extending the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) repayment deadline.  

CEBA loans 
The government has not listened to small businesses’ request to extend the CEBA forgivable deadline from January 18, 2024, to Dec. 31, 2024.  

“Sadly, Ottawa ignored the pleas of thousands of small business owners across Canada and didn’t address the crippling pandemic debt that’s weighing on small firms. Over two-thirds of small businesses still carry pandemic debt, at an average of $126,000,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. 

“Two-thirds of small businesses do not have the money to repay their CEBA loan and half of those have no capacity to borrow in order to secure the forgivable portion. If a business cannot repay the loan in full by January 18, their CEBA debt increases by as much as 50% creating the potential for a quarter million business failures,” Kelly added. 

“The government ignored the pleas of panicked small business owners facing the CEBA deadline, yet it has been able to find billions for subsidies to fund multinational vehicle battery plants,” Kelly said. CFIB will continue pushing the government to further extend the CEBA forgivable deadline to Dec. 31, 2024. 

Four major tax hikes going ahead 

Unfortunately, government is going ahead with four major tax hikes over the next several months. “With the upcoming hikes in Employment Insurance and CPP on January 1 and the federal carbon tax and liquor tax on April 1, the government is increasing the affordability challenge for Canadians and small businesses. Ottawa did not introduce any measures to lower the tax pressure on small firms,” Kelly said.  

Progress on some issues 

While the statement did not deliver on the most critical small business priorities, CFIB does welcome progress on competition law, interprovincial labour mobility and Employee Ownership Trusts. Small businesses look forward to learning more about these important files. 

Budget deficit 

CFIB is disappointed that the government did not introduce a clear timeline to return to a balanced budget.

“Bringing the budget back to balance remains a priority for small business owners,” Kelly said.  

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.