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CFIB statement on Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance announcement

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Toronto, April 24, 2020 – CFIB is pleased to see the federal government move forward with the provinces to implement its Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance. Several provisions that CFIB was looking for were included in today’s announcement: the program is retroactive to April and will provide rent forgiveness rather than just loans. 

However, CFIB also has some concerns including that the program may be too complicated and too reliant on landlords to administer. In particular, as landlords do not have to participate and will be expected to accept some losses under the program, they may choose to ignore it, even if their tenants badly need it. Another concern is that the all-or-nothing threshold of a 70 per cent revenue reduction will leave many hard-hit businesses without the relief they need.

We appreciate the enormous challenge in designing support programs and getting them out quickly. As they have done with other big programs, our hope is that governments will be open to suggestions for improvement as it becomes apparent in real time what works and what doesn’t. We have a survey going out tonight to small businesses across the country to get more reaction.

According to CFIB survey results:

  • More than 40 per cent of small businesses have seen a revenue drop of 70 per cent or more and should be eligible for the new program;
  • More than 50 per cent of small businesses are not able to pay rent without support, and this number is as high as 75 per cent for the hospitality sector;
  • 54 per cent trust their landlord to be reasonable, 33 per cent do not;
  • 75 per cent believe the cost of commercial rent that cannot be paid due to COVID-19 revenue losses should be shared between governments, landlords and tenants, with 19 per cent disagreeing.

CFIB urges landlords to accept the program and work with their tenants in good standing to ensure they can access the help they need.

Hopefully this program will help many of the businesses that have been hardest hit, particularly those ordered to shut-down entirely. This is welcome news but many business owners with dramatic revenue losses will not qualify for the program. More help from provincial governments to cover those falling through the eligibility cracks of federal programs is needed to get through this. The limitations of these programs underscore the need to get businesses back in business as soon as it’s safe to do so.

- Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB
647-464-2814
[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 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.