August 4 2023  |  Associations

FDFA asks government to drop repay requirement

By Hibah Noor

The Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA) is calling on the Canadian federal government to drop its repayment requirement of the CEBA loan its land border members were forced to take on because of the 20-month long Canada-US border closure.

Even after the border technically reopened, expensive testing and proof of vaccination were required for crossing. The border was only truly reopened as of May 11, 2023, when the US dropped its requirement for proof of vaccination to enter.

These small businesses that rely solely on the flow of traffic over the Canada-US border either had to close completely or operate with extremely minimal sales during this period.

Summer is the peak period for these businesses, and FDFA has just released an economic analysis showing duty free sales remain down an average of 33% compared to pre-pandemic as of the July Canadian and American holidays.

“It is unreasonable for the government that put our stores in the position of requiring debt to expect repayment when the stores have yet to recover from the long-lasting impacts of the government’s handling of the border,” said Barbara Barrett, Executive Director, FDFA. “We did our part to keep Canadians safe at the land border and it seems a moral imperative for the federal government to acknowledge that and forgive our stores the CEBA loan.”

“Our stores had no way to pivot business during the border closure,” continued Barrett. “And we continue to bear the brunt of these long-lasting impacts. We are asking for fairness from the government.”

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