TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily halting or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. The legislation applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance for evictions from May 1, 2020 until August 31, 2020.”We know COVID-19 has had a significant impact on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This legislation will allow us to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet so they can continue to create jobs and participate in the rebuilding of the provincial economy.”
Landlords and tenants are encouraged to participate in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The pause on evictions does not apply to those participating in CECRA for small businesses, as the program requires landlords to enter into a rent reduction agreement with their impacted small business tenants and commits them to a moratorium on evictions for three months.
“Pausing evictions of commercial tenants is another way we are supporting small businesses and providing much-needed relief as we work to reopen the economy,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Chair of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. “Working with the federal government, we are providing more than $900 million in relief to tenants and landlords in Ontario through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses.”
The Ontario New Democrats say the measures don’t go far enough. “Supporting small business is supporting Ontario. I’m shocked and disappointed that the Liberals, Greens and Conservatives have cut a deal to exclude so many businesses who need help from Queen’s Park,” said Catherine Fife, NDP critic for Economic Growth and Job Creation.
The Ford government’s commercial eviction ban, which passed Wednesday evening, only covers businesses which qualify for the deeply flawed, very narrow Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA).
“After dragging his feet for months, Ford also refuses to extend these protections back to the beginning of the pandemic, which excludes even more businesses, and may just encourage bad actors to backdate eviction notices,” said Fife.
“The NDP worked until the final moments to secure amendments to include all Ontario’s small- and medium-sized businesses — and we’re going to keep fighting to make sure that every small business owner gets the help they need during this crisis. Small businesses are the engines of our local economies, and they’re job creators that keep food on the tables for millions of Ontarians. They need more than a thank you — they need support.”