by Morinville News Staff
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is warning that over 34,000 small businesses in Alberta, constituting 20% of all small businesses in the province, are at risk of closure unless the federal government extends the deadline for repaying the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan.
Without an extension, businesses will lose the forgivable portion of the loan and face an additional debt of up to $20,000, coupled with a 5% interest on the full balance.
CFIB President Dan Kelly emphasized the urgent need for an extended repayment timeline, particularly for businesses in the arts, recreation, hospitality, and service sectors. With only 50% of small businesses having returned to normal sales levels, additional time is necessary for these businesses to recover from the pandemic’s economic impact.
“Financial institutions still have time to delay repayment processes if the government extends the CEBA deadline, but that window is closing. Ottawa needs to act now,” Kelly said.
CFIB’s report titled “Back in Business? Spring Update on Small Business and CEBA” reveals what the lobby group sees as concerning findings. Of the small businesses in Alberta that used CEBA, approximately 71% accessed loans ranging from $40,001 to $60,000, while 18% received loans up to $40,000. Disturbingly, only 8% of CEBA users in the province have repaid their loans, putting 47% of Alberta CEBA users at risk of missing the current repayment deadline by the end of 2023.
The report further highlights that small businesses nationwide in the arts, recreation, information, hospitality, and social services sectors will most likely miss the CEBA deadline. Additionally, businesses with 0-4 employees face the highest risk of missing the repayment deadline at 49%. Even among the 46% of small business owners who claim they will meet the 2023 deadline, 74% anticipate struggling to do so and support an extension of the repayment timeline.
Andrew Sennyah, Alberta Senior Policy Analyst at CFIB, stressed the urgent need for government intervention, citing the increased uncertainty faced by businesses in an already unpredictable economy.
“Despite difficult economic conditions, business owners want to repay the loan on time in order to secure the forgivable portion, but many of them cannot commit to doing so under the current timeline.” said Andrew Sennyah, Alberta Senior Policy Analyst at CFIB. “As we move closer towards the repayment deadline, the CEBA status quo creates more uncertainty for thousands of businesses already facing unpredictability in the economy.
Sennyah urged Premier Smith to advocate for Alberta’s small businesses and called for an extension of the CEBA repayment deadline until at least the end of 2024.
CFIB has put forward recommendations to alleviate the burden on small businesses:
- They propose extending the repayment deadline for the CEBA loan to December 2025 or, at the very least, until 2024.
- CFIB suggests considering additional debt forgiveness to provide further relief.
- An appeal process for CEBA loan recipients now deemed ineligible is being sought.
CFIB has launched a petition at CEBA Petition (cfib-fcei.ca) urging the government to extend the CEBA repayment deadline. To date, the organization has received over 23,000 signed petitions from small business owners, with over 3,500 new signatures in May alone.