Feds should help small businesses that are facing CEBA deadline, says Vancouver business owner

A local entrepreneur thinks the federal government could be doing more to help small businesses about to face a crushing deadline.

Peggy Berndt, who co-owns Cell Clinic in Surrey and Vancouver, says many small businesses are facing hardships with the Jan. 18 deadline to repay Canada Emergency Benefit Account (CEBA) loans, and she has written an open letter, asking the feds to tap into disaster assistance funding for businesses struggling to repay emergency COVID loans.

Her background is in emergency preparedness, and she thinks it’s fair to compare the effects of the pandemic on businesses to those of a natural disaster like flooding or an earthquake.

“I’m just trying to figure out for the life of me why this crisis is any different than any other crisis historically in Canada,” she said. “When a crisis occurs, local government, the provincial government, the federal government all work together to meet the needs of the people that are most impacted by the crisis. In this case, let’s talk small business.”

CEBA loans are interest-free loans of up to $40,000 that the feds extended to Canadian small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to help them deal with lost revenue during the pandemic.

Brendt’s open letter is pushing the feds to use disaster assistance funding to help small businesses repay these loans. She feels Ottawa failed to provide the right kind of help to businesses during the pandemic instead opting for loans with conditions, consequances, and a looming deadline.

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