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CFIB News Release: Governments still missing the mark on small business rent relief, challenges with CECRA leave too many without desperately needed help

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CFIB News Release: Governments still missing the mark on small business rent relief, challenges with CECRA leave too many without desperately needed help
Critical to fix this fast as 13 per cent of Saskatchewan businesses consider bankruptcy/winding down

Regina June 1, 2020 – Anxiety for many small businesses remains high as they head into a third month of severely reduced revenues and no rent relief, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. While the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program opened last Monday, many continue to report it won’t help them either because their landlord won’t apply or they do not meet the revenue loss criteria of 70 per cent.

Adding to these challenges, CFIB has received hundreds of calls and comments from both tenants and landlords frustrated with the CECRA application process. Comments range from confusion over the amount of financial information required to apply, complex attestation forms, and technical difficulties with the application portal. One landlord reported spending four hours on hold with CMHC trying to verify their login information. Others are finding the requirement to attest to 70 per cent revenue losses for April, May and June challenging given that June revenues are still uncertain.

“It’s June 1st and rent relief is a mess that needs a major clean-up,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president. “Workable rent relief is make or break for over half of the small businesses we surveyed and governments need to make this a top priority yesterday.”

CFIB is calling on governments to do three things immediately to address the rent crisis:

  1. Allow tenants to access their share of CECRA support directly through the program or find another means to get money to those that need it. For example, they could expand the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans to at least $60,000 (from $40,000) with an increase to the forgivable portion from 25 per cent to 50 per cent (from $10,000 to $30,000). It should also be a priority to ensure that announced expansions to CEBA are implemented immediately as some business owners have been waiting three months to be included in the program (e.g. those with contract workers, personal bank accounts and those that pay by dividends).
  2. Fix CECRA by simplifying the application process, expanding the number of months it covers, and reducing the 70 per cent revenue loss criteria.
  3. Put in place a temporary moratorium on commercial evictions for tenants otherwise in good standing with landlords. CFIB has been calling on provinces to do this since March.

“Fixing CECRA and putting in place a safety net for tenants whose landlord won't use it is critical right now. Even with more businesses opening up, many are still struggling and losing money," added Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president, Western Canada and agri-business. "That is why CFIB joined with the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association, the Retail Council of Canada, Restaurants Canada and the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and sent an open letter to Premier Moe calling on the province to implement temporary commercial eviction protection for tenants (who were in good standing with their landlords prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) during this unprecedented time."

To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president, Western Canada & Agri-business, please call (306) 539-6302 or email [email protected]. You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter at @cfibsk.
 
For media enquiries or interviews with Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president, please contact: Milena Stanoeva, Media Relations Specialist, at 647-464-2814 or email [email protected]

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) 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 cfib.ca.