Restaurants Canada is disappointed in the announcement from the Federal Government today on the much-needed extension of the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan repayment period. For a year, we have been pleading with government to extend the interest-free period by 12 months. This would give restaurants the time they need to pay back this loan, which for many, was a lifeline to survive the COVID-19 lockdowns.
The #OnTheirPlate initiative has tried to make the case that extending the loan is a fair and reasonable request in order to give restaurant operators the time they need to pay back these loans. The government has now made it so that the year-long extension on the CEBA repayment, is conditional on beginning repayments and refinancing the loan in full by March 28, 2024.
“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 per cent of restaurants are operating at a loss or barely breaking even. This is compared to 12 per cent pre-pandemic,” said Kelly Higginson, President and CEO of Restaurants Canada. “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.”
Restaurants Canada is calling on the Federal Government to revisit their repayment plan and to show compassion and understanding to our operators. We need the Federal Government to extend the interest-free period and allow restaurants to access the forgivable portion of these emergency loans that were taken out to survive the COVID-19 lockdowns. This is how we keep the beating hearts of our communities open for business.
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Tracey Mills Fletcher