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Rent relief major missing piece for small business survival, options beyond CECRA needed for worried business owners

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Half of business owners can’t make June rent without further help, 20 per cent fear eviction

Toronto, May 20, 2020 – Half of small businesses are not able to pay June rent without further help from government, show new survey results taken over the long weekend by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). More than half (55 per cent) say rent relief could make the difference between their business surviving COVID-19 or having to shut down.

“We’ve been asking for rent relief since March. Even when CECRA applications become available we know that program will leave businesses without the help they desperately need. The closer we get to June 1st, the more stressful things are getting and the more business failures we will see. We’re begging governments to move quickly to create additional help outside of CECRA,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president. “Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to cover many more businesses is a great start and it’s urgent this be implemented in time for June 1st. We would now like to see government increase the forgivable portion of CEBA which would go a long way to cover the CECRA shortfall.” 

Key survey results include: 

  • 67 per cent agree that more CEBA money should be forgivable;
  • 65 per cent of small businesses say governments have been too slow in providing rent relief
  • 55 per cent say rent relief could make the difference between their business surviving COVID-19 or having to shut down; this is as high as 80 per cent for the arts and recreation sector
  • 50 per cent are not able to pay June rent without further help; this is as high as 70 per cent for the hospitality sector
  • 22 per cent fear eviction (on a previous survey 68 per cent supported provinces putting in place policies to prevent commercial evictions); fear of evictions is highest in Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta.  

CFIB continues to advocate for the following rent relief measures:

  • Making CECRA available as quickly as possible, allowing tenants to access the 50 per cent relief when landlords don’t intend to apply for the program, and increasing eligibility (currently only tenants with a 70 per cent revenue drop qualify);
  • Increasing the amount of the CEBA loan and the forgivable portion of the loan;
  • Ensuring that loans from regional development authorities include a forgivable portion and are easy to apply for with a minimum of qualification criteria;
  • Reducing property taxes by a minimum of 25 percent; and
  • Protecting commercial tenants, otherwise in good standing with landlords, from eviction during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We described April 1st as scary and May 1st as feeling like a nightmare on Main Street. I don’t want to think about the words we’ll have to find to describe June 1st if governments can’t get their acts together to help businesses at this crucial time. Even with reopening, too many businesses will go down with no rent relief,” Jones concluded. 

Read a selection of comments from small business owners about CECRA.

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.