Front Bench: Liberals show fiscal responsibility

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The amount of expenses that small businesses have had to incur in 2023 have killed all profitability to small business you’re stressed out you you get tired what you supposed to get you’re always thinking instead of thinking about the business you’re thinking how I’m supposed to come up with this money

That ripple effect the cascading effect of this is significantly more than just that one business I’m not jumping on any government bashing bandwagon that said it would be if the government can find a way to extend it it would be great for us time’s up for small businesses who

Took out emergency government loans during the Pandemic those loans were free from interest and a big chunk of them forgivable until tomorrow we understand that things even as the economy has bounced back from covid uh continue to be challenging which is why we extended twice uh the uh

Repayment deadline for the a loans uh but uh we are now far enough from the pandemic that we do have to wrap up uh pandemic programs if they can’t quite make it by the 18th uh there are plenty of financial institutions who are there uh to give lowcost loans to be able to

Benefit those uh businesses as they continue uh to repay it over the coming years as you heard the Prime Minister mentioned the feds have twice extended the deadline to repay without penalty but so far do not look like they’re to heed calls from struggling businesses to do so a third time after tomorrow

Businesses that haven’t paid their loans back will start to ACR interest so uh what’s the Fallout like for the government or is the prime minister right to double down on this let’s bring in the front bench to talk about that Elliot Hughes is a political commentator and Senior associate with Suma

Strategies he’s a former senior adviser to Liberal finance and defense ministers Denise CA is with Hill Solutions she was a former press secretary in the conservative leaders office Kathleen monk is the former director of communications to the late Jack Leon she’s now the principal owner of Monk

And Associates and Sabrina niie is the founder of Queens Park Observer where she is a journalist hello everyone happy happy Wednesday I guess middle of the week uh Kathleen I’ll start with you there’s a political Dynamic to this as well the NDP federally have really been asking the government and pushing the

Government attempting to push the government to extend this deadline for a third time the premier all 13 of them got together and wrote a letter asking for the same thing why do you think the government has made the calculation not to do so well I think cuz they want a

Coherent strategy and Premier uh excuse me prime minister Trudeau hasn’t had a lot of those coherent strategies lately they want to avoid getting to the same kind of communications trap that they have on so many other things like the carbon tax right so him doubling down

This morning I think is a good good thing you know he’s he’s trying to show some fiscal responsibility consistent in his strategy and frankly he has the ability to do so why because the conservatives have been silent they’ve said nothing on this they haven’t gone out they haven’t advocated for small

Businesses um sure as you point out the premieres have and the NDP has but the NP has always been on the side of kind of mom and pop shops right they were the ones that advocated for the lowering of the small business tax years ago and so they’ve been pushing for this extension

Of the SE Bel loone just like you see wob canoe in in um in Manitoba actually lowering the hydro rates for freezing the Hyder rates for small businesses so there’s that thread populace kind of thread within the NDP that they’ve always kind of been on the the side of

Those small business owners and so they’re pushing for that but for the for the Liberals it makes sense and they have no competition on this one issue because the conservatives are not giving them a hard time maybe perhaps Denise the only cost of living issue right now that the conservatives aren’t giving

Them a hard time on do you think that is the calculation for the government and why do you think the conservatives are pretty silent on this one well the the silence actually speaks to uh the fact that this is something that the conservatives had wanted in terms of

Ensuring look let’s get support for small businesses and when you borrow the money you got to pay it back so the fiscal conservative part of things makes sense and um I would imagine that out of the 900 approximately thousand businesses that have had the opportunity for uh

These loans a large percentage of them are on path to pay it back so the interest rates will AC acre starting tomorrow but um like look here’s we we’re talking about the ways in which we get Mom and Pop shops the support that they need and when they’re back on their feet let’s

Start to employ more Canadians and and and so uh perhaps uh it’s the fiscal part of it I think that the the argument at least from a lot of small businesses who make up the 30% of the uh hundreds of I think it was 900,000 who have yet

To pay back Elliott is that they’re just not able to right that that recovery has been uneven largely dependent on uh what the impact of a lockdown was on your business and that there’s a whole lot of other things going on including a Slowdown in the economy uh due to higher

Interest rates rates that are also having an impact and making it harder for them to pay back the loan by this deadline is there a crash political calculation at any point by any of the parties right now on the value of the small business vote do you

Think um you know I was thinking about this actually reflecting how um aside from this issue we really haven’t heard a lot from the small business Community since since the pandemic was started to sort of fade uh I I remember you know for for several years and Kathleen

Touched on this point um you know it was a big fight it was a big political fight for years and years and years of which party is more friendly to the small business it was an important constituency and that’s largely gone away so that that’s I think that’s an

Interesting uh an interesting thing to watch in 2024 does it come back are they are they important again but obviously as as you point out bashy um no one wants to see any small business sort of suffer and be in trouble financially um and so that’s why the government has

Been so flexible and so supportive of them over the last couple of uh years since the pandemic and continues as the Prime Minister points out to provide lots of Pathways for them to be able to pay these loans back uh so 70% of of those who wanted that 20K forgiveness on

The 60,000 loan have already paid it back in full which is actually a pretty pretty solid number I don’t think there’s really crass politics at play here I think from the folks who have just sort of commented on this it doesn’t seem like one of those tough

Political issues I think it’s one of those things that the prime minister’s decided look you know we need to to move on from this the the covid supports were very healthy and strong for for for a long time but it’s time to to pay those

Loans back and and and the last Point by not paying if you don’t pay them back you’re sort of it’s it’s unfair to the companies who actually have done so and so it’s time to to move move on and hopefully these businesses can continue to to uh to succeed in in in

2024 yeah I think Elliott’s right that there’s a large public sentiment that pandemic supports do need to be paid back I think you know still speaking of small business owners it’s not necessarily explicitly tied Serina to the pandemic but there is a sense that all levels of government don’t

Necessarily have their back I think that’s true a lot of small business owners feel like they’re not represented in government but that putting that aside for a second I think we’re the the only place that the government gets in some tricky water when they use the fiscal responsibility argument is that

There are other levers at their disposal and I brought this up to the minister earlier particularly focused on bigger corporations like their threats to Levy attacks on grocery stores that don’t stabilize prices they haven’t added any meat to that threat in the months since they made it or even being more Ardent

About going after the wage subsidy and some of the potential flags that the auditor general raised in about 15 Bill billion dollars of concern she had about how that money was spent they don’t they’re not doing that yeah and I think that that speaks to something we might talk about a

Little bit later which is the caucus treat coming up and the emphasis on the economy and cost of living and dealing with those issues because I think uh the Trudeau government definitely wants to be seen as you know taking action on that uh where you know people and polls

Suggest that that they haven’t been performing so hot on those issues but I think death taxes and government loan repayments those are three things you just can’t escape it’s coming down and I would just add I think my co-panelists have have really pointed out like you

Know hit the Hammer U the nail on the head here uh when it comes to the main issues here but I think one thing that’s helping to soften the blow uh with maybe public perception of of these loan repayments and especially for struggling businesses especially in the restaurant

Industry which you know first was dealing with covid and now cost of living and people you know not going out to eat as much uh I think is trudo framing this that the co era program needs to come to an end at some point and everyone is probably happy to hear

That Co is behind us you know the brunt of it is in the rear view mirror and so I think that the framing of this is also playing a factor in how it’s going to play out with the public I think that’s yeah that’s a great point and sort of uh

Jumps off of what Denise you were saying about perhaps that’s the that’s the reason why we’re not hearing anything from the conservatives on this one I’m going to take a quick break the front bench is sticking around Sabrina Telegraph what we’re talking about next the cabinet retreat in Montreal in a few

Days they have to accomplish politically at that Retreat and the pressures they’re up against we’re talking about that with the front bench next

The Front Bench panel discusses the Liberals’ decision not to extend the CEBA repayment deadline for small businesses.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. How about a little common sense. Small businesses cannot repay there loans because there is very little foot traffic in there establishments. Liberal policies have made it hard to pay bills. Inflation was 7.0% last year, now add on another 3.5% this year. You don't have to be a financial advisor to figure that out.

  2. The word "Liberal" and the term "fiscal responsibility" are mutually exclusive. The two should never be used in the same sentence because that universe doesn't exist. The government forced this situation on small business owners by locking down the economy, racking up the deficit and doubling the national debt.

  3. why not give more time to pay back the loans why even pay interest on that
    Trudeau even said to go to the bank to get help. Rely on paying the loan if they have a hard
    time what if they have a hard time with. What if the bank forecloses on them then the doors close the only one that profits here is the bank. and that Is just wrong.
    Trudeau and Singh are driving Canada into the ground. Besides the bank profits over
    16 billion Year. Imagen what It would be like if the bank would not profit for one year

  4. The biggest problem is what constitutes a "VIABLE small business. A decorative candle maker or scented soap ? store may not be a long term viable business. Many small businesses have opened and closed before the pandemic that failed and now after 2 years Many did and now it's sink or swim. They've had 2 extensions.

  5. If it weren't for the Federal government's wastful spending, they could extend the paybacks. This isn't fiscal responsibility, this is oppression. Especially when you consider some of these business never even applied for CEBA. It was forced on them.

  6. This is great! Squeeze out the entrepreneurs while funding drugs for the addicts and feeding government bureaucrats. Who cares about these small businesses – they only employ middle class Canadians. Justin Trudeau needs to go ASAP!

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