TORONTO — MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre), the Official Opposition Ontario NDP Critic for Small Business joined small business owners, advocates and members of the St. Lawrence business community to call on the Federal government to fix the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program.
During the height of the pandemic CEBA was a lifeline for small businesses. CEBA allowed small businesses to stay solvent, pay their rent and keep their staff employed. After a long wait, the federal government announced a meagre 18-day extension on the forgivable portion of the loan deadline, from December 31 to January 18.
“An 18-day extension is utterly useless,” said MPP Wong-Tam. “Small businesses across Ontario are still struggling. COVID-19 lockdowns hit them hard, even as communities rallied around them, shopping local to save our main streets. This is an enormous letdown to small businesses. The federal government has upended the helpful and timely CEBA program, and I am asking them to fix it.”
“I am glad that we have so many small business owners and advocates here today to flesh out the true cost of not extending these loans. Right now, CEBA is a life raft for small businesses. As a provincial representative, I cannot stand by and watch it become a deadweight that drags our main streets underwater and into further debt.”
Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Ontario:
“Small businesses across Canada want us to keep pushing the federal government to extend the CEBA loan’s forgivable deadline until the end of 2024. An overwhelming 87% that took out a CEBA loan told us they need this extension. Regionally, we hope the Ontario government and all MPPs will echo our ask of Ottawa to help save the province’s small businesses from crippling COVID debt. Over 360,000 Ontario small businesses were approved for CEBA loans, which represents by far the largest number of all provinces and territories.”
Graham Hnatiw, Board Director of the St Lawrence Market BIA and owner of the Old Spaghetti Factory:
“This is not realistic or fair. We are calling on the government to extend the CEBA forgivable deadline to the end of 2024. This would give small businesses the time they need to repay their loans and to continue to recover from the pandemic. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create jobs and support our communities. The St. Lawrence Market is a vibrant and diverse community, and our small businesses are at the heart of it. We cannot afford to let them down.”
John Kiru, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA):
"This issue goes beyond Toronto, it impacts so many across our province. We are grateful for the assistance that we received from all three levels of government as we were challenged through that period. But nobody understood how long recovery, including economic sustainability of our neighbourhoods, would take. We need the loan forgiveness deadline extended to December 31, 2024. We are willing to work with all levels of government to fix this."
Effie Tziamouranis, Owner of Paddington’s Pump:
"It has been a difficult time recovery is not instant. We want to be able to continue serving our community by employing people from our community and to be able to repay our debt. We have incurred a lot of debt over this. We were forced to take on this debt to stay in business. I want to ask the Federal government to give the same consideration that we gave when we came to work every day during a pandemic, leaving our families behind and facing risk to ensure our communities were served."