the canadian parliament and library during the fall

Owner-operated businesses will soon be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), the federal government announced on Tuesday.

CEBA offers interest-free, partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000 for qualifying businesses. Previously, the program was available only to businesses with payrolls between $20,000 and $1.5 million.

CEBA will now be available to sole proprietors, businesses that rely on contractors and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends, according to a government release.

Eligible businesses must have a business operating account at a financial institution and a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and must have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return. They also must have eligible non-deferrable expenses ranging from $40,000 to $1.5 million.

The launch date for applications under the new eligibility criteria “will follow in the days to come,” the government said.

The announcement was welcomed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

“With many provinces now looking towards reopening their economies, small businesses will need ongoing support to get through the months ahead,” the CFIB said in a statement.

But the CFIB called on the government to increase the total amount of CEBA loans, as well as the forgivable portion. Currently, 25% of a CEBA loan is forgivable if the loan is repaid on or before Dec. 31, 2022.

The government hinted that additional help for business owners may be on the way, saying it was working on “potential solutions” to help business owners who operate through a personal bank account or have yet to file a tax return.

Correction notice: An earlier version of this story said that eligible businesses must have filed taxes in 2018 or 2019. To be eligible for CEBA, a business must have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.