REGINA - Today, Official Opposition Critic for Jobs and the Economy Aleana Young sent a follow-up letter to both federal and provincial finance ministers urging immediate action to protect Saskatchewan’s small businesses at risk of losing out on hundreds of millions in loan forgiveness from the federal government. The Canada Emergency Business Account deadline is fast approaching and no meaningful action is being taken by either the Sask. Party or the federal government.
“This is what happens when both provincial and federal governments see more political benefit in fighting with each other ahead of an election than actually sitting down and doing their jobs,” said Carla Beck, Leader of the Official Opposition. “It’s not big business here in Saskatchewan that’s going to suffer from a lack of a deal. It's going to be the locally-owned mom and pop stores who just need a little extra time recovering.”
During the pandemic, the federal government introduced the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to help small businesses and not-for-profits struggling to stay afloat. The CEBA program offered interest-free loans of up to $60,000. The federal government offered 33% forgiveness on the loans (up to $20,000) for those small businesses and not-for-profits that were able to pay back the debt by the January 18, 2024, deadline.
Over 29,000 small businesses in Saskatchewan took CEBA loans to help weather the challenges of the pandemic. Of these, 45% have still not been able to repay their loans. The CFIB has reported that 39% of small businesses are making less than normal revenues, with those in hospitality, arts and recreation, retail, and social services hit the hardest. Many small businesses in Saskatchewan have already been forced to close their doors.
“Small and independent businesses in our communities make our communities,” said Young. “We’re not asking for a blank cheque and neither are Saskatchewan small business owners. If the federal government won’t extend the deadline, the Sask. Party needs to actually do the work and ensure Saskatchewan small business owners can still access the forgivable portion of the loan. If they’re not prepared to do that work, the Saskatchewan NDP is ready to lead.”