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BC Restaurant, Food Services President says emergency loan payback extension feels like Christmas in September

Restaurants and small businesses across the province including Prince George are breathing a sigh of relief after a major announcement from Ottawa.

Yesterday (Thursday), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a 12-month extension for small businesses to pay back emergency loans offered during the pandemic.

(BC Restaurants and Food Services Association President and CEO Ian Tostenson. Photo credit BCRFA.)

BC Restaurants and Food Services Association President, Ian Tostenson believes some lobbying from Victoria likely went a long way in making this possible.

“I know they went to bat for us. We asked them several times and they did so as much as we know this is a federal decision, I think there was a lot of pressure applied by our own premier and minister of small business.”

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“I haven’t talked to a business that had $40,000 in the bank to pay back. To put it mildly, they were freaked out about how they were going to pay it. I think we were going to see a lot of businesses pack it in and say it is not worth it. So, I think this was a major, major announcement.”

Tostenson added with some areas losing foot traffic and even their businesses to the wildfires, getting the extension was a must-have – especially in the Okanagan and Shuswap regions.

“There were businesses that were just killed tourism-wise that had no revenue. And so, they were not only having a hard time paying it back in the first place but now they had tourism dropped off to nothing and they are in really tough shape. I think this is great.”

At first, the payments offered up to $40,000 to small businesses and non-profits that have experienced a loss of revenue due to COVID-19, with that amount later expanded to $60,000 in interest-free loans.

(With files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)

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