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Flawed rent relief program overdue for a fix, even as it is set to come to an end

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Survival of businesses shut out of the program depends on it

Regina, August 28, 2020 – As September 1st is fast approaching, many businesses are still without the rent help they need to survive, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) is set to end on August 31st and no extension has been announced. Even if the program is extended, it leaves too many without the help they need as it depends on landlord participation and has a very high bar for revenue losses to qualify (70 percent average revenue loss for April-June). 

“The unfairness of this program is off the charts, with established businesses from coast-to-coast being shut out of accessing help they need in order to keep their businesses going,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. “Does it make sense for a drycleaner on one side of the street to survive while the one on the other side shuts down simply because one landlord was able to apply for the program and the other one wasn’t?” 

CFIB has been campaigning for months for better rent relief, including:

  • Allowing tenants to access CECRA funds directly, regardless of their landlord’s participation
  • Expanding the forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account loan (currently 25 per cent of the $40,000 loan is forgivable—CFIB is advocating for a 50 per cent forgivable portion of a $60,000 loan). 
  • Extending commercial eviction protection to cover hard-hit businesses through more months until rent relief can be fixed

“I try not to swear, especially not in press releases so the “F” word I’ll use to capture small business sentiment is FRUSTRATED,” said Jones. “The big question now, is whether the new Finance Minister will give business owners some hope that she will fix the crazy-making unfairness built into rent relief. For many, the survival of their businesses depends on it.” 

In a letter to former Finance Minister Bill Morneau on July 29th, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer said the CECRA program is broken and the funding would be more useful if redirected to directly support small businesses. 

“CFIB commends Minister Harpauer on proposing a critical fix to the flawed CECRA program which would instead allow eligible small businesses to access the funding directly if their landlords choose not to apply. This is exactly what is needed,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Western Canada and Agri-Business. “We’re pleased to see the Manitoba Government recently join Saskatchewan in pushing for these changes. Now we just need the new federal Finance Minister and all other provincial finance ministers to move quickly to do the same.”

Examples from small business owners across Canada who need rent relief but have not been able to access CECRA are included here. 

To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president, Western Canada and 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.