TORONTO - Last week, the Ontario Legislature approved a temporary ban on evictions of commercial tenants. A relief for small businesses who have been struggling to pay their rent after government-imposed restrictions in the wake of Covid-19.
This legislation will help protect commercial tenants (who have not been able to pay rent after three months of government mandated closures) from eviction. Retroactive to May 1, the temporary ban will be in e«ect until August 31.
This comes after weeks of the Premier pleading with commercial landlords and tenants to “work together”.
Many commercial landlords have been able to work out arrangements with their small business tenants. This temporary ban was geared toward those landlords who have been “coming down hard” on their small business tenants experiencing diculty paying rent during this pandemic.
Back in May, Federal and Provincial governments partnered to deliver the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA). Ontario is committing $241 million in partnership with the Federal government, to deliver over $900 million to provide urgent relief to small businesses and their landlords.
The program enables eligible property owners the opportunity to reduce or forgive rent for small business tenants by up to 75% for the months of April, May and June.
Eligible commercial property owners that apply for CECRA must meet the necessary requirements. Once approved, commercial landlords and their tenants would each be responsible to pay 25% of the tenant’s rent. Provincial and Federal governments would cost share the remaining 50%.
This legislation, e«ective until August 31, temporarily bans commercial property owners (that are eligible and refuse to apply for CECRA) from evicting their tenants for unpaid rent due to financial hardship prompted by government mandated closures.
The NDP have been calling for all businesses to be covered under this legislation, not just those whose landlords are eligible yet do not apply for CECRA.
This program could be a “life-saver” for many small businesses feeling the financial burden due to Covid-19.
This is just one example of a program governments have created to help carry small businesses through to the next phase of restoring and rebuilding the local economy.
It is unfortunate for businesses that have already been evicted due to unpaid rent since the onset of the pandemic (prior to May 1). The “Protecting Small Business Act” comes at a crucial time for others still “hanging on”. Parts of the GTA still remain in phase one. Not all businesses in these areas have been permitted to “open” their doors and transition to phase two.
Today’s weekly progress report will delivery the news the rest of Ontario’s small businesses are waiting to hear.
The remaining three regions in phase one, the city of Toronto, the region of Peel and Windsor/ Essex, will learn whether they have met the necessary criteria to advance stage two.
The expectation is that they will. In any case, this renters’ program may provide some seed money going forward.