Financial struggles continue after Sask. businesses pay off CEBA loans

Financial struggles continue after Sask. businesses pay off CEBA loans

Even if Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans have been paid off, some Saskatchewan businesses say it will still be a difficult road ahead.

Kerri Van Loosen, the president of the Regina German Club, said if there was still a mortgage on the building, the club would have had to close.

“It was obviously a very stressful, whirlwind of emotion,” she said.

The club turned to the community for support, fundraising through a GoFundMe page and even negotiated selling off the club’s parking lot.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a CEBA loan extension in September, Van Loosen was relieved for the grace period.

When the loan was extended for only 18 days, Van Loosen was angry.

“It was a joke,” she said. “It was a sad attempt at making it try to appear that they were helping the smaller businesses.”

Financial struggles continue after Sask. businesses pay off CEBA loans

Kerri Van Loosen and her family inside the main hall of the Regina German Club. (Kerri Van Loosen/Submitted)

As the Jan. 18 deadline approached, the club was able to pay off the loan right before Christmas with a few large, anonymous donations.

“(It was) such a huge sigh of relief,” Van Loosen said, “because it was just this hovering weight on us, like, ‘If we don’t have the money, we have to sell something or we have to close.’

“That was our two options.”

The GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/f/invest-in-tradition-regina-german-club) raised more than $62,000, with $40,000 of that being used to pay off the German Club’s CEBA loan. The other $22,000 was used to pay other outstanding debts.

Despite tackling some financial struggles, Van Loosen said the club is still in a bad spot. Each month, the club will have to gross $10,000 to avoid selling its parking lot.

Closing the door

Annabel Townsend, the owner of two coffee shops and bookstores, opted to close her second location on weekdays.

“We’re winding it down quietly,” said Townsend. “At the moment, it’s not sustainable in its current form.”

Tuppenny Coffee and Books opened in 2023 as an events venue, providing a bigger space for book launches to complement Townsend’s bookstore, The Penny University.

Townsend hopes to reopen the store full time, but she understands customers are also struggling with finances.

The Penny University opened in 2020. In 2021, Townsend got a CEBA loan. She said the 18-day loan extension announced in September was a slap in the face.

“That was a nasty shock,” Townsend said.

Townsend managed to meet the Jan. 18 deadline.

“I had to rush around, stress and beg and borrow to borrow enough to cover enough for what I have already borrowed,” she said. “What I have ended up having to end up doing is delaying the inevitable and borrowing from someone else to pay back the government.”

Townsend now has another $40,000 loan to pay back.

With little flexibility, and a large payment to make, Townsend had to lay off one of her staff members.

According to the federal government, a quarter of the businesses that got the CEBA loan did not meet the Jan. 18 deadline.