Earlier this year, the Ontario Government announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA) would expire on August 31. CECRA was created to provide relief for businesses facing hardships due to COVID-19 by reducing rent by 75 per cent. CECRA covers 50 per cent of the rent and the tenant and the property owner cover 25 per cent each.
But as the assistance program came to an end on August 31 and the coronavirus numbers started to increase again, tenants started to get worried, especially because landlords weren’t cooperating with the tenants to apply for the government-assistance in the first place. However, concerns were listened to and Premier Doug Ford said on September 4 to CBC News, “We’re extending it as of today. It’s going to go for another month, to the end of September. Our priority is always to make sure we protect businesses out there.”
This came hand-in-hand with the ban also put in place by the Ontario government to protect small businesses from being evicted from the beginning of May until the end of August since landlords are not applying for CECRA. This means that small Ontario businesses can get back on their feet without worrying about being evicted due to non-payment.
“The biggest frustration we've been hearing from tenants on CECRA is that landlords just aren’t applying,” said Ryan Mallough, director of provincial affairs (Ontario) with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). “The number-one concern we've been hearing from landlords is that the program is both overly complicated to apply for and actually doesn’t work for them on the cost side.”
CFIB data indicated that as of Aug. 23, more than 20,000 landlords in Ontario have applied for CECRA. The organization estimated that this will be affecting approximately 44,500 commercial tenants.
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