CFIB urges finance ministers to fix rent relief as one in three small businesses say it remains a critical missing piece for their recovery

Toronto, July 28, 2020 – With the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program coming to an end this week and another month’s rent coming due, one in three small businesses say rent relief remains a critical missing piece for their recovery, according to a new survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). On behalf of hard-hit small businesses in desperate need of rent relief, CFIB issued an open letter to urge federal and provincial finance ministers to fix rent relief.

“Three months into the launch of the program, it is now abundantly clear that while CECRA has helped some, it has left many more stranded without relief. How is it fair that the dry cleaner on one side of the street will survive because their landlord is using CECRA and the one on the other side will go under because they can’t access the program? Another problem is the bar to access the program is extraordinarily high even with a willing landlord,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB.

The federal government’s own records show less than 10 per cent of the funding committed to CECRA has been spent to help 29,000 small business tenants. An additional 25,000 applications are predicted before the submission deadline at the end of August (program ends in July, but applications are open until the end of August), which still leaves the program underutilized.

CFIB recommends provincial governments work with the federal government to allow tenants to directly apply for and access CECRA funding. CFIB has also recommended the forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account be expanded as an alternative way to provide rent relief. If the federal government will not do either of these things quickly, provincial governments should immediately pull their portion of CECRA funding and redirect those funds to support small business tenants who have not been able to access critical rent relief under CECRA. 

“We need provincial finance ministers to help Ottawa fix this, now. Waiting to see if more landlords apply for CECRA by the application deadline would be a big mistake not in keeping with sensible recovery plans,” added Jones. “Rent relief needs an overhaul now to ensure a successful economic recovery for the small business community.”

Read CFIB’s open letter to federal and provincial finance ministers for more details.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Wissal El Alaoui, CFIB

Source CFIB data
These are preliminary results for Your Business and COVID-19 – Survey #17, a new CFIB online survey started on July 17, 2020, completed by 5,269 CFIB members. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at