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Some Saskatchewan small businesses at risk of closing as loan repayment deadline nears

Hank Ukrainetz is the owner of Hank’s Tavern, a hotel and tavern in the City of Bradwell, Sask.

Her business was one of the 29,088 small businesses that benefited from federal emergency loans during the covid 19 pandemic.

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program gave loans totalling $1.6 billion to Saskatchewan businesses.

Ukrainetz said the loans helped business owners like herself stay afloat.

“The loan helped me keep my staff on. I didn’t have to lay anyone off, it helped keep things in stock,” Ukrainetz said.

Business owners have to pay back the loan by the deadline of Jan, 18.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) say many businesses may not be able to meet that deadline.

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“At the end of December, we had only 40 per cent of our members indicate that they had repaid their … loan, and 28 per cent,” CFIB director provincial affairs, Brianna Solberg said.

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Many business owners, Solberg said, have seen every line item in their budget go up, from the cost of fuel and rent to utilities and even taxes. Businesses are having a hard time, Solberg said.

“Business who miss that deadline on the 18th will lose that $20,000 forgivable portion; for many, they need that to balance their bottom line. That’s a lot of money for some of these businesses, they are at risk of closing their business,” Solberg said.

Ukrainetz, meanwhile, is asking the federal government for more time.  “I would like the federal government to give all businesses that have not repaid the loan an extension to Dec. 31 of 2024”.

She says she is in talks with a bank for pre-approval of a loan, but she says this would not be good for business.

“I would probably go and get a loan but that will incur monthly payment. That will add on to my debt, ” Ukrainetz said.

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