The deadline for small businesses to start paying back a loan given out by the federal government to help them navigate the pandemic is looming.
CEBA (known as the Canada Emergency Business Account) repayments are due to begin on Thursday, Jan. 18.
But retailers like Jessica Duncan, who owns Singing Bowl Granola in Victoria, say forcing vendors to pay is too soon.
“Basically, people are looking at $1,800 a month to pay back CEBA. Most small businesses are barely surviving,” Duncan told CHEK News.
CEBA was an interest-free loan of up to $60,000 to help shops face the unprecedented downturn the pandemic caused. On the heels of the pandemic was inflation, the effects of which are still lingering.
“No one’s recovered!” said Duncan.
Repayments are due Thursday, and Duncan worries many retailers may not be able to pay. The CEO of Greater Victoria’s Chamber of Commerce’s prediction is less grim.
“Some are maybe holding onto the entire principal amount,” said Bruce Williams, CEO of Greater Victoria’s Chamber of Commerce.
“Some, though, are planning on taking out a loan with a bank to pay it, or they have an installment plan to make it happen. I think there’s going to be a flurry of repayments.”
In Ottawa, the leader of the NDP is trying for a Hail Mary.
“We’re echoing the ask for at least another year to extend it, and that will put businesses in a better position to repay it,” Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal NDP, told CHEK News.
It’s something B.C.’s premier echoed today.
“Please find a way to support those businesses to keep their doors open, keep people employed, come to a way to deal with these loans that is constructive that isn’t going to act as a drag on the economy,” said Premier David Eby.
But the calls are falling on deaf ears.
At a chamber of commerce conference in Montreal today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there would be no extension on CEBA loans.
For Duncan at Singing Bowl Granola, it’s a decision that’s deeply concerning. She’s worried that it might mean losing the character and flavour of cities and towns across Canada.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of businesses shut down, and our communities are gonna suck!” added Duncan.