Eby, premiers ask federal government for COVID-19 small business loan extension

By The Canadian Press

Canada’s premiers have sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking the federal government to extend the repayment period for a year for interest-free loans given to small businesses and non-profits during the pandemic.

The federal government’s Canada Emergency Business Account offered interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

B.C. Premier David Eby said in a letter Friday signed by all the premiers that small businesses, like most other Canadians, are feeling squeezed by the rising cost of housing, groceries, and other daily essentials, and just when they are starting to recover after the pandemic they are facing higher inflation and interest rates.

“That’s why I’m joining other premiers in asking the federal government to give small businesses a chance to recover with more time to qualify for loan forgiveness and by extending CEBA loan repayments for another year.”

The repayment deadline for the emergency loans to qualify for partial loan forgiveness is Jan. 18, 2024.

The emergency business program approved $49.2 billion in loans to small businesses and not-for-profits during the pandemic.

The letter follows the recent request by premiers Doug Ford of Ontario and Andrew Furey of Newfoundland and Labrador, that the Bank of Canada consider the human impact of further rate increases, and the potential for additional increases to drive up housing costs, Eby said.

“Whether it’s homeowners and renters, or small businesses struggling to recover, we need to support people in these difficult times,” Eby said in the letter. “I would like to thank the other premiers in joining this very important request of the federal government and I am confident that Prime Minister Trudeau will respond positively to support small businesses.”

The federal government’s website says Ottawa approved CEBA loans of $40,000 and $60,000 for 898,271 businesses and the number of businesses approved for expansion loans of $20,000 was 571,851.

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