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Canadian banks to hand out interest-free loans to small businesses

A Bank of Nova Scotia logo is seen outside of a branch in Ottawa

TORONTO (Reuters) - Small and medium-sized businesses in Canada that have been affected by the coronavirus crisis were able to begin enrolling in a program to apply for interest-free loans of up to C$40,000 on Thursday, according to the Canadian Bankers' Association.

As part of a number of measures announced by the federal government, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program enables qualifying small businesses to apply online through their current lenders for the loans, a quarter of which is forgivable if repaid by Dec. 31, 2022.

Scotiabank <BNS.TO> has so far approved the loans for 3,750 customers, over C$150 million, the bank said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.

In March, the "big six" lenders - Royal Bank of Canada <RY.TO>, TD Bank <TD.TO>, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal <BMO.TO>, CIBC and National Bank of Canada <NA.TO> - announced a coordinated effort to offer mortgage relief to customers suffering pay disruption as businesses grind to a halt.


(Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bangalore and Nichola Saminather in Toronto; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and David Gregorio)