Canadian business leaders expressed disappointment Tuesday with the federal government’s fiscal update, arguing that help for struggling businesses was absent from the bill.

The federal economic update, released Tuesday, included new measures to boost housing and clean investment tax credits for projects such as carbon capture and clean technology.

But did not include an extension to the Canada Emergency Business Account forgivable repayment deadline, which many business groups have been calling for as operators struggle to recover from pandemic losses.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said it was “deeply disappointed” with the update, as it has been pushing for an extension for months.

“Sadly, Ottawa ignored the pleas of thousands of small business owners across Canada and didn’t address the crippling pandemic debt that’s weighing on small firms,” CFIB President Dan Kelly wrote in a written statement.

“The government ignored the pleas of panicked small business owners facing the CEBA deadline, yet it has been able to find billions for subsidies to fund multinational vehicle battery plants.”

Kelly said more than two-thirds of small businesses still carry pandemic debt, at an average of $126,000. His organization is pushing for a CEBA forgivable repayment deadline of Dec. 31, 2024 from the current deadline of Jan. 18, 2024, unless the business comes to an extension with its bank.


Goldy Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, said business leaders have largely applauded some of the measures from March’s federal budget, including tax credits for the clean transition and lower credit card fees, but he lamented that some of these programs have not begun and were not mentioned in the fiscal update.

“There were many policies from the last budget that were received favourably by the business community and beyond as policies that would enable investment and growth in a more predictable and stable environment, but nine months later, we’re still waiting for the implementation of that,” he told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview on Tuesday.

“We have to act with much greater ambition and urgency and speed.”


Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, struck a more upbeat tone, citing the “positive elements” of the fiscal update, including investment tax credits for clean energy projects.

“It’s urgent that businesses get clarity from the government in terms of how they’re going to be treated,” he said in a television interview. “What we need is a broader strategy to attract investment into Canada, we need to start growing again.”