Only 100 days left until the CEBA forgivable deadline: Government needs to fix the problem or correct the record after giving small firms false hope
Toronto, October 10, 2023 – Small businesses that took out a Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan have only 100 days left to repay it before they lose the forgivable portion of up to $20,000. A majority (87%) of those businesses say they need a further extension to the end of 2024, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
“The recent announcement of a year-long CEBA extension left many small businesses under the impression they have until the end of 2024 to repay their loan in order to keep the forgivable portion. This interpretation was widely shared by MPs and in media reports,” said Dan Kelly, CFIB president. “Unfortunately, the forgivable extension was actually 18 days to January 18, 2024. I am deeply worried that many small businesses do not understand they have just a couple of months to take action before they see their debt rise by 50%.”
“The reality is that government is telling businesses that can’t repay the loan in the next 100 days to take on another loan from a bank at a much higher interest rate and overall payment in order to secure the forgivable portion. This is crazy. These are small businesses we’re talking about, the ones who support our communities and the economy,” Kelly added.
On September 14, 2023, the government announced an 18-day extension to the forgivable deadline to January 18, a new deadline for businesses that have applied for a bank loan to repay their CEBA loan to March 28, and a one-year extension to the final repayment deadline to the end of 2026.
A recent CFIB survey found that four out of five small businesses did not find the changes helpful.
Over half (53%) of small business owners said they question whether their business will remain viable if they lose the forgivable portion of the CEBA loan. Only one-third (34%) can repay their CEBA loan on time, another third (30%) will borrow funds to access the forgivable portion, while the final third (29%) has no means to secure a loan for repayment.
“What we’re hearing from business owners is dire. We need Ottawa to extend the forgivable deadline to the end of 2024, and if they are unprepared to do that, launch a major multi-media campaign to ensure they correct the misinformation that may lead to a crippling increase to the debt burden facing small firms,” Kelly said.
To date, over 47,000 business owners have signed CFIB’s petition calling for the extension.
“Ottawa can’t turn its back on small businesses now,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. “All we are asking for is just a bit more time. After giving away billions in subsidies to large multinationals, this is the least Ottawa can do to show it understands the realities of running a small business in Canada.”
For the latest data on small business debt and CEBA, read CFIB’s fall update here.
Business owners can visit CFIB’s website for more information on the CEBA announcement and their financing options.
For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB
The data referenced in this news release was gathered through a CFIB online survey - CEBA Repayment Changes Survey. Final results for September 21-28, 2023, are based on responses from 6,748 CFIB members who are owners of Canadian independent businesses, from all sectors and regions of the country. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of at most +/-1.2%, 19 times out of 20.
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.