Pay off their debts | Small and medium businesses want federal help again

(Ottawa) Small business owners called on the federal finance minister to consider providing additional assistance to pay off debt linked to the pandemic as the sixth wave of COVID-19 led to another drop in sales.

Posted at 3:00 PM.

Jordan Press
Canadian Press

Minister Chrystia Freeland has heard this plea several times in recent days during an after-budget tour around the country.

His response was that emergency measures were no longer necessary with the end of the crisis, the booming economy, and the government’s need to tighten the financial belt.

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), says 40% of its members say they have returned to normal sales.

He adds that more were concerned about the impact on revenues and their ability to repay loans when there is no traffic, despite the end of many health restrictions in the provinces.

Its members have expressed these concerns to Freeland during a webinar on budgeting. Mr. Kelly said he left the meeting thinking the finance minister had taken note of their concerns.

The budget does not extend the emergency benefit programs that will end on May 7, but mme Freeland told online attendees that she heard them when asked about debt relief, and later called for further discussion.

CFIB members have taken out an average of $160,000 in pandemic-related debt, including about $60,000 from the federal loan program.

The government has set December 2023 as the deadline to repay these interest-free loans and take advantage of the partial write-off. However, many small business owners believe they will need an extension until 2024 to finish repayment.

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“Yes, the streets are more crowded again, yes, the key economic indicators are positive, but there are many, many small businesses — particularly in the retail, hospitality, service sector, arts and entertainment — hanging by a thread and now Kelly said in an interview.

There was huge amounts of new spending on almost every (federal) budget line, yet it was very little for any kind of business support.

Dan Kelly, President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business

He says about three-quarters of CFIB members said they don’t find the federal budget helpful, even though it doesn’t include any debt relief measures or reduced card fees. Credit for small and medium businesses.

On this last point, the budget promises to continue the consultations promised in last year’s budget, which were based on a liberal electoral promise in 2019.

“I would like to be able to accommodate whatever the Federal Government would like it to do, but I understand that I will not and never will,” Minister Freeland told members of the AU International Council.

“What I will tell you is that I am always careful when preparing the budget. When coming up with policies, I pay attention to what they will mean for small businesses.”

One positive element Kelly noted in the budget was the promise of capping small businesses to take advantage of the lower tax rate, which he says should remove barriers to small business growth.

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