Island businesses call on Ottawa to extend deadline for loan repayments

Island businesses call on Ottawa to extend deadline for loan repayments

Dimitri Adamopoulos walks through his Greek restaurant, Ithaka, in Victoria.

“This kitchen was a total disaster when we took it over. Put all new equipment in. A new hood,” he said.

Dinner service is a few hours away, but the staff are hard at work.

The pandemic hit the hospitality sector hard.

But businesses, like Ithaka, could apply for the Canada Emergency Business Account, or CEBA, for interest-free loans up to $60,000 backed by the federal government.

Then $20,000 would be forgiven if the rest was repaid by a certain deadline.

Ottawa is giving small businesses more time to pay back those emergency loans, but groups representing small businesses say it’s still not long enough.

“We’d like to see the extension be offered for a longer period, and be coupled with still allowing for forgiveness,” said Kris Wirk, chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

“Extending it to a two year repayment term, and having full forgiveness for all businesses.”

Victoria NDP MP Laurel Collins says it’s important that the federal government listen to small businesses, many of which are still struggling.

“For a small business, $20,000 can be a make or break decision,” she said. “We already have seen small businesses in our community have to close their doors because of the impacts of the pandemic. Without support from the government, many of these small businesses are already struggling are going to have to shut down.”

At Ithaka, business is building back.

And while the restaurant is doing well, bouncing back is going to take some time.

“I think we are in a position now as a country where an extended period of time would enable businesses, such as my own, a little more time under normal conditions to generate revenue to be in a better place, and have better footing moving forward,” Adamopoulos said.

According to federal statistics, only 20 percent of the businesses that received a CEBA loan had fully repaid it.

WATCH: Restaurant closures feared in Victoria as deadline for federal loan repayment looms

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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