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Rent relief becoming make-or-break for many businesses, majority say more help needed

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CECRA money should go straight to tenants if landlord doesn’t apply; provinces urged (again) to put in place temporary commercial rent protection; CEBA expansion could help

Toronto, May 13, 2020 – A majority of small businesses (79 per cent) say they need more help with rent, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s weekly COVID-19 survey. Eighty per cent support relief going directly to tenants if landlords do not apply and 88 per cent support provinces putting in place temporary eviction protection. 

“It’s becoming very clear that CECRA is not working for some businesses that are in the precarious position of having significant revenue losses but a landlord that has decided not to apply when the program becomes available. The design of the program puts these tenants between a rock and a hard place and stress is through the stratosphere,’ said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president. 

CFIB is calling on the federal government to create a pressure relief valve where tenants with landlords who do not intend to apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) can access the 50 per cent government portion of the rent relief directly. Increasing the amount and forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account loans and expanding eligibility could also be part of the solution.

CFIB continues to call on provincial governments across Canada to put in place temporary commercial eviction protection for tenants who were in good standing with their landlords prior to the COVID-19 emergency and to reduce property taxes. 

“Patience is running out with the provinces. Do they think it’s fair to prohibit businesses from operating and then not lend a helping hand to help those same businesses survive? Eviction protection would bring some peace of mind and some Atlantic provinces have moved on this. Continuing to ignore the issue is kicking small businesses while they are down,” said Jones. “They should also be stepping up on direct relief.” 

Key survey results include: 

  • Nearly half of small businesses have seen revenue declines of 70 per cent or more
  • Two thirds of businesses are concerned about having enough cash flow to meet their rent, payroll and other fixed costs
  • 77 per cent of small businesses believe government should make emergency money available to businesses that have been hard hit by COVID-19 to cover their fixed costs 
  • 7 per cent of businesses are worried about being evicted, but that number jumps to 16 per cent for businesses in the hospitality sector and 13 per cent for businesses in arts and recreation

“April and May rent came and went with no concrete assistance for small businesses. Now they’re looking to June with CECRA not yet available and many landlords saying they won’t use it when it is available. Without further help soon many otherwise healthy businesses won’t be around to reopen because governments didn’t make rent relief a big enough priority,” concluded Jones.

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.