Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared that the government is granting an additional year for businesses to repay loans obtained through the small business pandemic loan program. However, it’s crucial to note that businesses must still repay the forgivable portion of the loan within the next few months to avoid losing that benefit.
This program, known as the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), was initiated during the peak of the pandemic to provide support to small businesses that had to close or limit their operations due to public health restrictions. Under this program, businesses could request interest-free loans backed by the federal government, with a maximum limit of $60,000 per applicant. To encourage prompt repayment, up to $20,000 of the loan would be forgiven if the remaining amount was repaid by a specified deadline. Initially set for the end of 2022, this repayment deadline was later extended to the end of 2023.
For businesses unable to meet the extended deadline, they would start incurring interest on the outstanding loan amount and would be required to fully repay it by the end of 2025. However, this repayment deadline has now been pushed further to the end of 2026.
Prime Minister Trudeau explained, “While many businesses have already repaid their loans, we recognize that some need a bit more time to meet their obligations.”
To facilitate this extension, businesses will have until January 18, 2024, to qualify for debt forgiveness. Those businesses that have refinanced their loans will be granted until March 28 to meet the requirements. After January 19, 2024, all outstanding loans will begin accruing five percent interest.
It’s worth noting that nearly 900,000 businesses were approved for this program, receiving a total of just over $49 billion in loans. However, as of May 31, only 21 percent of these businesses had fully repaid their loans.
The announcement regarding CEBA is part of a series of new measures introduced by Prime Minister Trudeau to address concerns about the rising cost of living.