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Petition calls for one-year CEBA repayment deadline extension

By Brad Perry Dec 21, 2023 | 1:00 PM

A New Brunswick chamber is calling on the federal government to give small businesses more time to repay their COVID-19 loans.

The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce has launched an online petition, which is sponsored by Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin.

It calls on Ottawa to extend the partial loan forgiveness deadline under the Canada Emergency Business Account Program (CEBA) and the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) by one year.

“We were hopeful that [Finance] Minister [Christia] Freeland was going to announce an extension during her Fall Economic Update, but of course that did not happen,” said Morgan Peters, CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.

Small businesses and not-for-profits currently have until Jan. 18, 2024, to pay back their debt to qualify for partial loan forgiveness of up to 33 per cent.

After that, outstanding loans will convert to three-year term loans with a five per cent annual interest rate, with a repayment deadline of Dec. 31, 2026.

Peters said some businesses are still struggling to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, and the current deadline could be the final nail in the coffin for some.

“Every business is going to react differently, but I think it’s pretty reasonable to assume that the answer for some of them is going to be closing their doors if they don’t get some further relief,” he said.

Canada’s premiers recently called for a similar extension — a move backed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

New CFIB data finds only one-third of business owners have repaid their CEBA loans while another 23 per cent do not think they can repay it in time to keep the forgivable portion.

As of mid-day Thursday, the chamber’s petition had nearly 400 signatures from across the country. The petition will be open until Jan. 10, 2024.