Vancouver Island MPs are asking Ottawa to help out small businesses who received Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans, as business owners face interest rate hikes, bills and wildfires.
The loans need to be repaid by the end of the year, however, some business owners are still feeling the pinch after years of difficulty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The CEBA loan was the difference between surviving COVID or closing our doors for good, now with the repayment deadline fast approaching and interest rates climbing, we’re bracing ourselves for January,” said Evan Falck, Co-owner of The Island Grind Coffee and Tea in Campbell River. “There is no way we’ll be able to re-pay $40,000 by December 31, we didn’t see a profitable month until May this year and we’re just now starting to dig ourselves out of the COVID hole. Extending the deadline until 2024 will give us a much better chance of repaying the $40,000 and avoiding yet another blow to our small business.”
According to an NDP press release, if forced to pay now, nearly 47 per cent of Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) members in British Columbia could be at risk of closing.
“Businesses in Courtenay-Alberni have been hit with one thing after another – a pandemic, the rising cost of living crisis, and now the wildfires have cut off local shops from needed supplies and customers,” said Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns. “With coping with the wildfires being top of mind for most local business owners, they shouldn’t also be forced to stress about repaying CEBA loans. The government needs to be listening to local communities and delaying the CEBA deadline.”
“Local shop owners really feel like the Liberals have left them behind because while small businesses have had to plead for help, the Liberals hand out money to rich companies without being asked. The least the government could do is extend the CEBA repayment deadline,” said North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney. “If local businesses are going to make it through this, and keep bringing jobs to our communities, something has got to give.”