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MP Bachrach urges extension of small business loan repayments

Only 15 percent of small businesses have been able to make full repayment as December 31 deadline nears, says Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP
Some businesses will struggle to repay federal loans offered during pandemic, says Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach is urging the federal government to assist struggling small businesses by extending the repayment period for Canada Emergency Business Account loans.

The New Democrat raised the proposal during Question Period in the House of Commons on Tuesday after hearing from the owner of Grizzly Jim’s general store in Topley.

“There’s a simple way the finance minister can support small businesses like Grizzly Jim’s: extend the CEBA loan repayment period by an additional year,” Bachrach said.

Introduced in April 2020, CEBA offered interest-free loans backed by the federal government to small businesses forced to close or limit their operations due to public health measures.

The repayment deadline is December 31, but three years after the pandemic started, only 15 percent of recipients businesses have been able to make full repayment, according to Bachrach, who is seeking a one-year extension.

“The Canada Emergency Business Assistance loans allowed them stay afloat during some of the toughest financial times our country has seen,” said Bachrach in Parliament. “But for many, revenue hasn’t yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, and they face the cost of inflation and a tight labour market.”

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, 49 percent of small businesses are still making below normal revenues, with those in hospitality, arts and recreation, retail and social services hit the hardest.

Bachrach also sent a letter to federal Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng on the topic.

“The owners of these businesses are finding it harder than expected to repay their loans,” said Bachrach in the letter. “The concern is that if the repayment period is not extended, the closure of vulnerable businesses will not have been prevented, only postponed.”