Businesses struggling under yet another round of lockdowns and capacity restrictions will have an extra year to repay emergency interest-free loans issued by the federal government.

The Canada Emergency Business Account offered interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits.

When the government first created the CEBA program at the onset of the pandemic, it set a repayment deadline of Dec. 31, 2022, for anyone who wanted to take advantage of zero interest and having a portion of the loan forgiven.

But since then, some businesses have had only brief reprieves from the onslaught of Covid-19 and the restrictive public health measures that come with it.

“The bottom line is of course this we will continue to be there to have people’s backs with as much as it takes with as long as it takes until we get through this pandemic,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a media briefing Wednesday.

Businesses who were approved under the Canada Emergency Business Account will now have until the end of 2023 to pay back their loans, Trudeau announced.

The government also extended the loan forgiveness deadline.

Businesses who repay what they owe by the end of 2023 will be offered loan forgiveness of 33 per cent, up to $20,000.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business had been pushing the federal government to roll back the repayment deadline even further, to December 2024, to help more recipients take advantage of the zero-interest and forgiveness options.

Still CFIB president Dan Kelly praised the one-year extension on Twitter Wednesday, calling it “good news,” and asked the government to considering issuing another round of $20,000 loans and increasing loan forgiveness to 50%, up to $40,000.

He also said the program should be expanded to include new firms, micro-sized companies and the self-employed.

A survey of CFIB members late last year suggested they could take two more years to become profitable again.

Since its launch, the Canada Emergency Business Account has provided loans worth $49.17 billion to more than 898,000 companies, the largest portion of whom are in Ontario.