The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says more than 30,000 business owners have signed a petition calling for an extension to the current Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) repayment deadline.

CEBA loans currently must be paid by December 31, 2023 to have up to $20,000 of the loan forgiven. Those who do not repay the loans by the deadline must also pay the entire amount at a five per cent rate of interest.

“We’re not asking for total loan forgiveness – just more time. If businesses are forced to close because of their pandemic debt, government will not be able to recoup that money,” says Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’s executive vice president. “It’s a win-win situation if businesses are allowed more time to pay.” 

The CFIB at the same time sent a joint letter signed by more than 250 business associations, encouraging the government to extend the repayment deadline until the end of 2025, “or at least 2024.” 

They add that the CFIB’s research shows that nearly 250,000 small businesses could be at risk of closing in the next year if the government does not change the deadline. The joint letter also points out that 49 per cent of businesses are still making below normal revenues.