The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) applauds the federal government for listening and acting on the recommendations brought forward by OFA and other organizations to implement much needed changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program.
The CEBA program provides $40,000 in interest free loans to eligible small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
In a letter sent to Finance Minister Bill Morneau on May 1, OFA outlined the restrictive eligibility requirements that prevented many farmers from accessing the program. Specifically, the requirement for at least $20,000 in payroll prevented many family-run operations from qualifying.
Many family members within the business are compensated through different methods such as from profits of the business rather than through payroll. Additionally, many farm businesses rely on custom work and contract work, which also did not qualify as payroll under the CEBA program.
OFA is pleased the recent expansion of the CEBA eligibility requirements will allow more sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll to be eligible for the CEBA program.
One issue that still needs to be addressed is the requirement for the applicant to have a business bank account with the financial institution which they are applying through. Many smaller farms and other small businesses operate through a personal rather than business bank account. OFA urges the government to provide a solution for these farmers and small business owners.
Click here to read OFA’s letter to Minister Morneau on changes needed to make the CEBA work for farmers.