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‘Lipstick on a pig’: Companies say Ottawa’s CEBA reimbursement extension misses essential level Categorical Occasions

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Deadline to repay CEBA loans prolonged by yr, however that does not embrace a key forgiveness grant

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Tina Hamlin, who runs a house decor firm in Vancouver, was initially elated when she heard the federal authorities will permit small companies an additional yr to repay a mortgage given to them through the pandemic.

Amid a sequence of different bulletins on the housing disaster and rising meals costs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sept. 14 mentioned the extension on Canada Emergency Enterprise Account (CEBA) loans will present small companies with a “bit extra runway” to pay them again as dozens of his occasion’s members applauded the announcement on air.

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Thrilled with what she noticed on the information, Hamlin determined to go surfing and dig somewhat deeper. A couple of minutes later, her pleasure fizzled as she realized the extension ignored a key facet of the mortgage: the forgiveness grant.

CEBA extension falls brief

CEBA provided interest-free loans of as much as $60,000 to small companies and not-for-profits till June 2021 to assist them deal with the financial impacts of the pandemic. In complete, $49.2-billion value of loans to round 900,000 companies had been made below this system.

Repaying this mortgage by Dec. 31, 2023, would have allowed companies to obtain a mortgage forgiveness grant of as much as $20,000. If corporations fail to satisfy the deadline, nevertheless, they are going to be charged curiosity of 5 per cent per yr and the complete principal could be due Dec. 31, 2025.

A number of enterprise teams urged Ottawa to increase the reimbursement deadline together with entry to the forgiveness grant by no less than a yr as a result of hundreds of small companies warned they’ve but to recuperate financially and are observing chapter.

The federal government responded this week by extending the general mortgage reimbursement deadline by a yr to Dec. 31, 2026. However the deadline to satisfy the situation for the forgiveness grant of as much as $20,000 was elevated by simply 18 days, from Dec. 31, 2023, to Jan. 18, 2024.

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“This doesn’t appear useful in any respect. Actually, it’s simply lipstick on a pig,” Hamlin mentioned. “They don’t seem to be actually making any distinction right here. I’m very dissatisfied. It doesn’t appear to be they actually perceive the gravity of the scenario. We’ve got been feeling like now we have been in a recession for the final six months.”

Along with rising costs and client spending declines, Hamlin’s enterprise, Coast Consignment, which is a supply for design props in motion pictures, has been impacted by the continuing Hollywood labour strikes, which she mentioned has harm about 25 per cent of her month-to-month gross sales. She mentioned she must take yet one more mortgage to obtain the forgivable grant.

Chapter risk

Shedding the forgivable portion of the mortgage would put almost 250,000 small companies in jeopardy, in response to a survey carried out earlier this yr by the Canadian Federation of Impartial Enterprise (CFIB), which has 97,000 members, making it Canada’s largest affiliation of small and medium-sized companies.

“The extension of the forgivable deadline by just a few weeks might be of little or no worth to the hundreds of small enterprise homeowners who simply don’t have cash to repay now,” CFIB’s chief government Dan Kelly mentioned in a press release on Sept. 14.

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He added that the extra yr to repay the complete stability is useful, however the plan “misses probably the most central difficulty.”

Nearly 70 per cent of small companies that accessed the mortgage haven’t been capable of repay any of it but, in response to an ongoing CFIB examine. Solely 18 per cent had repaid their mortgage in full as of September.

Shara Vigeant, who runs a health centre in Edmonton, mentioned the extension was “laughable.” She expects a number of small companies to go bankrupt below the present plan, and mentioned extending the forgivable deadline would have ensured the federal government will get some a reimbursement somewhat than nothing.

“It’s virtually like a slap within the face,” she mentioned. “What are 18 days going to do for a enterprise that has been struggling for the final two to 3 years. Eighteen days is nothing. The individuals who have been making these insurance policies or altering these deadlines have by no means run a small enterprise earlier than.”

Angela Pollak, chair of a enterprise affiliation in South Algonquin, Ont., a city with a inhabitants of about 1,000 folks, echoed the same sentiment and mentioned the extension wouldn’t profit companies in rural locations the place the restoration has been “precarious and incomplete” at greatest.

“They might have been higher off not making any modifications in any respect,” she mentioned.

• E mail: nkarim@postmedia.com

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