Canada extending repayment of COVID-19 business aid loans to 2023

The federal government is extending the deadline for small businesses to pay back their Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans to the end of 2023.

The government introduced CEBA in April 2020 as an interest-free loan program, offering initially up to $40,000 to small businesses and non-profits who have experienced a loss of revenue due to COVID-19. An expansion was then offered, seeing businesses able to apply to receive up to $60,000 loans.

Prior to Wednesday’s update, if claimants repaid the balance of their loan on or before the end of 2022, the government planned to forgive up to one-third of their loan.

Now, eligible businesses “in good standing,” will have until Dec. 31, 2023 to repay and be eligible for up to $20,000 of debt forgiveness.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng made the announcement on Wednesday, noting that given new restrictions many businesses are facing due to the current Omicron surge, they may need more time to pay back their loans.

“As workers and small businesses and people across the country face renewed uncertainty and with new lockdowns, rising case counts, and the Omicron variant, we continue to know what the best thing for our economy is to support our workers and businesses through this pandemic,” said Ng.

The government is also extending the repayment deadline for the partial forgiveness for what Ng called the “CEBA-equivalent lending” provided through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to Dec. 21, 2023.

“We’ve heard from businesses that they’re looking for this flexibility, and that’s what today’s announcement is about. This additional year will help businesses get that flexibility to work together through this pandemic, to the end of this pandemic.”

Outstanding loans after the new deadline will be converted to two-year term loans with a five per cent interest rate, starting on Jan. 1, 2024, with the loans due in full by Dec. 31, 2025.

While applications closed for these loans in mid-2021, since its launch 898,254 businesses have been approved for these loans, totalling $49.17 billion in federal assistance.