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1 in 5 small business owners in B.C. say they can't pay back CEBA loan: CFIB


The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says about 23 per cent of small businesses in B.C. are unable to repay the Canada Emergency Business Account, or CEBA, loan before Jan. 18.

Emily Boston, a policy analyst with CFIB, said the organization has been inundated with calls from business owners in the last few days.

“We’re hearing a lot of concern,” she said. “A lot of people saying that they’re not sure if they’re going to be able to make ends meet in time.”

All CEBA borrowers have been given until Jan. 18 to repay the interest-free loan, or it will be converted to a three-year loan from the federal government at five per cent interest, with monthly payments starting immediately.

Peggy Berndt, a co-owner of Cell, a cellphone repair store, said she believes all levels of government need to approach this economic issue as they would any other crisis.

Berndt penned a letter to local and federal politicians, saying, "COVID is an unprecedented crisis that has worsened for small businesses over time … warranting equitable financial aid through Canada's Disaster Assistance Program." In the event of a large-scale natural disaster, the program acts as a way for the feds to provide financial assistance.

“Nobody has come to the aid of small businesses in a big way like they would with other large-scale disasters, and that’s the difference,” Berndt said.

According to the CFIB, the average small business is carrying over $100,000 in debt. Boston said it’s unfortunate to hear how many local, independent businesses are struggling in this economic climate.

“It’s really unfortunate because we have to remember why this loan was offered in the first place,” she said. “That was to make sure these businesses didn’t close their doors, and now, a couple years later, something that was supposed to be a lifeline for them, is going to sink many small business owners.” Top Stories

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