The news posted by globalnews.ca states that Canadian small businesses are in need of an extension for the repayment deadline of The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) by the federal government. Without this extension, many businesses will be forced to close due to their inability to pay their debts.
Calls are ringing out in the Atlantic region for the federal government to extend the repayment deadline for pandemic CEBA loans.
Advocates say businesses hard hit by COVID-19 lockdowns are still struggling to recover. The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) offered interest-free loans up to $60,000 to small businesses during the pandemic’s height.
Recently, the federal government extended the repayment deadline by 18 days to qualify for partial loan forgiveness.
“It’s just like a nail in a coffin for another small restaurateur,” Bill Pratt says.
As the owner of more than 20 restaurants in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Pratt has taken out multiple CEBA loans. He’s the founder of the Chef Inspired Group of Restaurants, which includes Cheese Curds and Habaneros.
Pratt says the extended Jan. 18 deadline does not go far enough.
“We were hoping for help and yet all of a sudden we got told, ‘Nope, it’s extended by 18 days,’” Pratt says. “You have to have a loan in place with the banks, so now with the high interest rates, that’s only going to compound the issue.”
He says businesses shouldn’t be forced into private loans to meet the deadline.
Despite currently getting ready to open the doors of his new business, Buttermilk, in Dartmouth on Wednesday, Pratt says he’s worried about future closures.
“It’s more than the $40,000 for me that I have to save on all this stuff and still keep people employed, which will probably result in a couple of closures of the not-so-strong (restaurants) in order to survive,” Pratt says
The premier of British Columbia has sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a letter asking for an extension for small businesses that have been struggling. That letter has been co-signed by all the premiers in Canada.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says many small businesses are in danger.
“The majority of small businesses that do have CEBA, if it is not extended, are looking at some very difficult decisions ahead,” Nova Scotia policy analyst Duncan Robertson says.
“Around eight in 10 are still carrying that pandemic debt load,” he says. “Giving extensions, allowing them to pay it back, allowing them to keep that repayable portion will go a long way to make sure they can pay off their debt and fully recover from COVID.”
The executive vice-president of government relations and public affairs of Restaurants Canada says the deadline needs to be extended further.
“We want to pay it back, we’re able to pay it back, but we just need a little bit more time to deal with the inflationary pressures,” Richard Alexander says. “About half of restaurants in Canada right now are not making any money, and if you’re not making any money you can’t pay back the loan.”
Pratt wants to see the repayment deadline extended by at least one year and interest removed or rates lowered.
“We’re not giving up this fight. We’re still pushing the government,” he says. “We need help and we’re in the ninth hour.”