As clock ticks down to CEBA deadline, business owners plead for understanding from government

As clock ticks down to CEBA deadline, business owners plead for understanding from government

Some small business owners in Canada are asking for the federal government to reckon with the challenges they face as they confront a looming deadline to repay a portion of emergency government loans issued during the pandemic.

Businesses face a Jan. 18 deadline to pay back up to $60,000 in loans received through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program. Businesses that pay back the bulk of the loan before the deadline can see up to $20,000 of the remainder forgiven by the federal government.

Loans that are not paid back before the deadline begin to accrue interest.

Angela O’Brien, owns a lingerie store in West Kelowna, B.C. She told CBC’s The House that she was able to get the full $60,000 from the government, but she had to obtain additional financing from her bank to pay off the initial $40,000 and secure the $20,000 forgivable portion. That puts her in the government’s good books but leaves her with a major liability.

Premiers and business groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) have called on Ottawa to extend the deadline for CEBA repayment for the roughly 900,000 businesses that took part in the program. The parliamentary budget officer estimates that it would cost the federal government nearly $1 billion to extend the deadline for a year.

The House15:08Tough deadline ahead for thousands of small business owners

“Following many conversations with government, I’m convinced there won’t be any last-minute extension to the current January 18 deadline,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly in a statement released Thursday.

O’Brien told host Catherine Cullen that, despite the cost, government needs to step up to help small businesses that face difficult turns on a regular basis. She cited the example of wildfires in B.C. last summer that forced her to replace all her stock due to smoke damage.

O’Brien argued that the federal government 

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