The CEBA loan repayment — how will it impact Alberta business?

With the deadline now past, the president and CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce is worried that a large number of her members simply weren’t able to pay off their Canada Emergency Business Account loans in time to take advantage of the program’s key incentive.

According to the agency overseeing the funding, 125,015 Alberta-based businesses were granted CEBA loans of up to $60,000. For those able to repay $40,000 by Jan. 18, the remaining $20,000 was forgiven.

“Prior to Christmas, we did a quick call button survey to see where businesses were at and we had over 500 respondents,” the Chambers’ Shauna Feth said. “Of which, 41per cent were saying they weren’t anticipating being able to repay the CEBA loan. And that, for us, is a really high number.”

Feth said the key piece for most is the forgivable portion.

“The extension has been applied for three years to actually repay the loan, but when you look at a small business, in a lot of these cases they’re not evening getting the five per cent refinancing. They’re having to refinance at much higher rates,” she explained.

Feth said there’s a substantial impact when you think of interest payments on the $20,000 and the additional burden that it places on a small business.

“We also surveyed those same 500-plus respondents through our data research, and out of those, 42 per cent of them anticipated being in poor financial health, actually paying or refinancing the CEBA loan.”

Topping the list of businesses struggling to pay the loans back were ones that were forced to shut down during the pandemic, including personal services, housing and accommodation, as well as travel and tourism.

“Any kind of those industries that had no recourse or a way to recoup their losses,” Feth said.

Even more detrimental in all of this — according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, nearly 50,000 businesses that were granted a loan were later found to be ineligible.

According to the CFIB website, businesses that applied for a refinancing loan on or before Jan.18, 2024, through their financial institution, qualified for a special extension to March 28, 2024, to keep the forgivable portion.

But it points out there are terms and conditions.

Dave Lueneberg, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin’ the Breeze

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