Canadian restaurants call on government to do more after loan repayment announcement

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Victoria Buzz –By Curtis Blandy -Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he intended on implementing measures to assist Canadians. 

One of these measures pertained to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans provided to numerous restaurants in Victoria, BC, as well as throughout the entire country.

CEBA offered interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to restaurants, small businesses and non-profits, with a repayment date of December 31st, 2023. 

Over the past year, at least 18 restaurants in Victoria alone have been forced to shut down, partly due to financial pressure. In some cases, it was because these restaurants had CEBA loan payments that they couldn’t afford to pay.

Restaurants Canada is an advocacy group which has been pleading with the government to extend this interest-free deadline by another year for the better part of 2023. 

They predicted from the beginning that restaurants with small profit margins would have difficulties repaying this loan within the designated time. 

Following Trudeau’s announcement, the date the loan must be repaid in full has been pushed back to the end of the year, 2024, with the condition that payments have begun on the refinanced loan by March 28th of next year. 

“Because of record level inflation on all costs to operating a restaurant and according to a Restaurants Canada survey in July of this year, 51% of restaurants are operating at a loss or barely breaking even,” said Kelly Higginson, President and CEO of Restaurants Canada.

“This is compared to 12% pre-pandemic.” 

“We are very concerned that these restaurants who have not yet recovered from the pandemic debt and inflation will not be able to refinance. This could cause the closure of thousands of restaurants in communities large and small across our country,” she added.