There was some good news for small businesses in the federal budget but the head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said entrepreneurs are still facing big worries and the majority aren’t back to where they were before the pandemic.

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday, Dan Kelly, president and chief executive officer of CFIB, said the “government has to worry about how much firepower it has left, but so do small business owners.”

“One of the pieces in that mix is the fact that they're sitting on a mountain of debt that the business has had to take off just to survive the past three years,” Kelly said.

“A good chunk of that is in the form of a CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) loan, those loans are coming due, the government-backed loans delivered by the banks are coming due at the end of 2023, you have to have it paid off unless otherwise you're going to lose the forgivable portion and have to start paying interest.”

Kelly has been calling for the federal government to extend the repayment deadline for CEBA loans, which is currently set for Dec. 31, 2023.

“We've asked the government to extend the deadline (CEBA) by one or two years to give businesses a little bit longer runway. That didn't happen in the budget and we think it is a real missed opportunity for small firms,” he added.

The 2023 federal budget included small business commitments such as a reduction in credit card fees for small business owners, a commitment to reduce international trade barriers through a Federal Action Plan and a doubling of the Tradespeople Tool Deduction.

However, Kelly said there could have been more to help small business owners, with many still struggling to get back to where they were in 2019.

“But look there's a variety of smaller positives in the budget, but some big worries on the part of Canada’s small businesses, the majority of which are not back to pre-pandemic levels of sales,” he said.

For the full interview, click the video at the top of the article.