As businesses continue to navigate the economic aftermath of COVID-19, the December 2023 deadline for Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans looms near. With so much of the post-pandemic economy still up in the air, financial experts are wondering what comes next. Canadian businesses must repay CEBA loans by December 31, 2023 in order to qualify for loan forgiveness. However, given current economic circumstances, many are wondering if this deadline may be too soon.
The debate is gaining momentum with the existing deadline’s approach. Business owners and industry experts alike are beginning to ponder the implications of an extension.
Are Canadian businesses in the right position to repay their debts, or is pushing the CEBA deadline the best way forward for everyone involved?
What is the CEBA loan?
The CEBA loan, introduced as a financial lifeline during the pandemic, has served as a cornerstone for many businesses facing pandemic related disruptions in cash-flow. With its interest-free structure and a forgivable portion of up to $20,000 for repayment by December 31, 2023, CEBA has proven invaluable in supporting Canadian businesses.
Industry leaders echo these sentiments. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), a vocal advocate for SMBs, has long been pushing for an extension to the December 2023 deadline, noting the many businesses still impacted by the pandemic. They argue that offering the CEBA program was intended to support and stabilize businesses: a goal better served by providing companies more time to recover financially.
Benefits of extending the CEBA repayment deadline:
As many as 900,000 Canadian businesses took out the CEBA loan. Only a fraction of these loans have been repaid. Given the continued instability in the Canadian economy post-pandemic, there’s plenty of reasons for the Canadian government to consider giving businesses additional time to repay. These include:
- Continued support for Canadian business owners: Many sectors are still facing the effects of the pandemic, and an extended repayment deadline would provide additional support during this recovery phase. This means fewer insolvencies, and more Canadian businesses continuing to contribute to the global economy.
- Greater financial flexibility: According to Export Development Canada, only 13% of CEBA loans have been repaid—which means most CEBA loans are still outstanding. A CEBA loan extension offers Canadian businesses more financial flexibility to strategize their repayments effectively without compromising their operational cash flow or business needs.
- Promoting economic stability: With Export Development Canada suggesting that 87% of 900,000 loans are still outstanding, the decision to extend the government deadline is one that could be measured in billions. Giving businesses more time to repay can contribute to more stability and resilience for Canadian businesses overall.
While the potential benefits of a loan extension are substantial, the topic is still under consideration. No changes have been made to the CEBA repayment deadline at the time of this writing, although industry players have continued to push the potential benefits of a more flexible date. Canadian businesses impacted by the outcome of this decision would be wise to understand their options, as having a clear repayment strategy will be more important than ever in months to come.