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CFIB News Release: May rent still feeling scary for commercial tenants

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Only one in ten commercial tenants who need help qualify for CECRA and believe landlord will participate

Regina, April 30, 2020 – With May rent due tomorrow, small business owners are very concerned about whether landlords will take up the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program (CECRA), according to new survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Even with some Saskatchewan businesses set to re-open next week in the province, most still desperately need help to cover their fixed costs.

“In theory the CECRA program is good as it covers a substantial fraction of the rent and the costs are shared, but in practice it is quickly turning into a mess. Tenants are powerless if their landlords don’t apply, and landlords are worried there aren’t enough details to know whether they qualify. Unless there is a miracle on Main Street between now and Friday it looks like the program isn’t going to help nearly enough businesses,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president.  

Looking at business owners in Saskatchewan who said they need help with rent, the survey found that:

  • 31 per cent don’t qualify because they don’t meet the 70 per cent revenue loss criteria;  
  • 2 per cent qualify but know their landlord won’t participate;
  • 21 per cent qualify and are unsure if their landlord will participate; and
  • 5 per cent qualify and think their landlord will participate.

CFIB appreciates that the federal and provincial governments have come to the table with significant funding to support commercial rent, but continues to call for support to go directly to tenants. CFIB has been asking provinces to help cover rent with monthly grants of up to $5,000. Only three provinces, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia have programs anywhere close to this, with one-time grants of $5,000. Current survey results show 80 per cent of small businesses want provincial governments to provide additional grants for those falling through the cracks of federal programs. CFIB has also been calling on provinces to put in place eviction protection for commercial tenants otherwise in good standing for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Many stressed small businesses are desperate for more help, even as some begin to re-open,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president, Western Canada & Agri-business. “What do you say to a hairdresser who is shut down by provincial order and whose landlord is not participating in CECRA? While we are pleased the Government of Saskatchewan has stepped up with the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment, we recommend the province consider extending this grant.”

CFIB also has tools available for business owners on its website at cfib.ca/COVID19, including a template for tenants wanting to reach out to landlords regarding CECRA and one for landlords to reach out to tenants.

“CECRA isn’t working for lots of businesses so we continue to urge tenants and landlords to talk to each other and work out something reasonable and fair to help as many businesses survive this storm as possible. In the meantime we will continue to advocate for simple programs that allow money to flow straight to the tenant,” added Braun-Pollon.  

Methodology
Results are based on 9,266 responses from CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received between April 24 and 29, 2020. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error for national results of +/-1.0%, 19 times out of 20.

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 @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.