The clock is ticking: Nearly three-quarters of small businesses need more time to repay CEBA loans

Toronto, May 10, 2023 – With the deadline to repay the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan interest-free by year-end fast approaching, 78% of small business owners report that getting extra time to repay their CEBA loan will increase the likelihood of their business’ survival, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). 

CFIB data shows about half (49%) of small businesses are still making below normal revenues, with those in hospitality, arts and recreation, retail and social services hit the hardest. 

“Many small businesses are trying to repay their COVID-related debt, while facing an onslaught of additional challenges. High interest rates, inflation and labour costs are all making it hard for small businesses to keep their head above water, let alone make any dent in the debt they were forced to take on to survive pandemic restrictions,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB president. “If the government helped ease their debt burden, small businesses could reinvest the money into employees or back in their business. Otherwise, we may see more business failures as businesses realize they can’t afford to stay open.”

A strong majority (72%) of small businesses need to see CEBA repayment rules extended, with 30% preferring a deferral of one year and 42% preferring two years, according to recent CFIB data. 

Only 10% of businesses that took on a CEBA loan have been able to repay it entirely, while another 47% say they will be able to repay it by the end of 2023. If the CEBA loan is not repaid by December 31, 2023, small business owners will lose the up to $20,000 forgivable portion and start accruing interest.

CFIB has collected over 19,000 petitions from small business owners calling for improvements to pandemic supports, including the need to extend CEBA loans. Based on these petitions, CFIB has sent a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and is also sending letters to federal MPs, urging the government to ensure small businesses get the debt relief they need. CFIB is calling on the federal government to:

  • Extend the repayment deadline for the CEBA loan to end of December 2025 or at least end of 2024
  • Consider additional debt forgiveness
  • Implement an appeal process for CEBA loan recipients that are now deemed ineligible

“It’s not too late for Ottawa to show support to small businesses across the country,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President of National Affairs at CFIB. “Given the uncertain economic situation and high debt loads, requiring repayment by end of this year may force many businesses to throw in the towel.”

Business owners can sign CFIB’s petition to government to extend the CEBA repayment deadline here.

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

Your business debt and CEBA: Final results for an online survey completed by 5,996 CFIB members between March 13 to 22, 2023. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of ± 1.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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