12 April 2023
Jenica Atwin, MP, Fredericton
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Dear MP Atwin,
Re: Canada Emergency Business Account (“CEBA”) Loan Extension Request
I am writing today to follow-up on our previous conversation of our hope that the federal government will provide a further extension of the repayment and partial loan forgiveness deadline to 31 December 2024. We were disappointed this was not part of Budget 2023 released last month.
Of course, the government deserves praise for providing this relief (amongst others) at the height of the pandemic to those small businesses that needed it most. This also means that these businesses were those most vulnerable to such a cataclysmic economic downturn and a significant amount remain in a precarious position. Many small businesses have very tight profit margins that are sensitive to any disruption of business. To underscore this reality, Export Development Canada reported that by the end of November 2022, only 13% of CEBA loans had been repaid1.
Businesses are also hampered from repaying their CEBA loans because of the large amount of debt incurred from other sources. According to a January 2023 Statistics Canada report, more than 20% of all businesses were carrying a greater debt load than at the beginning of the pandemic and they addressed the disparity amongst sectors and size of business2:
“More businesses in accommodation and food services reported a greater current debt level than businesses in other sectors, at over one-third (36.6%), followed by businesses in arts, entertainment and recreation (29.7%) and administrative and support, waste management and remediation services (29.5%).
Additionally, smaller businesses generally were more likely to report a greater current debt level. One-quarter (25.7%) of businesses with 5 to 19 employees, and over one-fifth of businesses with 1 to 4 employees (20.8%) and 20 to 99 employees (21.8%) reported that their current debt level was greater than it was prior to the start of the pandemic, in contrast with 12.2% of businesses with 100 or more employees who reported the same.”
Since COVID-19 Public Health restrictions began, it has been clear that economic recovery would be a long process and while some sectors are now thriving in the wake of the pandemic, the recovery remains uneven amongst sectors and regions. Your government has provided relief as needed along the way for small businesses and we ask that you continue this approach to recovery and provide an additional extension to repaying the CEBA loans.
Krista Ross, CEO, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce
cc: Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Finance, Government of Canada
cc: Sheri Somerville, CEO, Atlantic Chamber of Commerce