THUNDER BAY – The COVID-19 Pandemic has taken a toll on business. Here in Thunder Bay over the past year, before the pandemic hit, the city saw closures of several large chains including Lowes. Since the pandemic, the business sector has faced challenges and increased costs. Keeping a retail store or office clean has been a real challenge, and it has raised costs.
Survival of businesses shut out of the program depends on it
“I try not to swear, especially not in press releases so the “F” word I’ll use to capture small business sentiment is FRUSTRATED,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. “The big question now is whether the new (Federal) Finance Minister will give business owners some hope that she will fix the crazy-making unfairness built into rent relief. For many, the survival of their businesses depends on it.”
While there are many government programs working to help, there are still some gaps in the programs available. One of those areas is in commercial rental assistance. The current ban on commercial evictions in Ontario will end on August 31, 2020.
As September 1st is fast approaching, many businesses are still without the rent help they need to survive, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) is set to end on August 31st and no extension has been announced. Even if the program is extended, it leaves too many without the help they need as it depends on landlord participation and has a very high bar for revenue losses to qualify (70 percent average revenue loss for April-June).
“The unfairness of this program is off the charts, with established businesses from coast-to-coast being shut out of accessing help they need in order to keep their businesses going,” adds Jones. “Does it make sense for a drycleaner on one side of the street to survive while the one on the other side shuts down simply because one landlord was able to apply for the program and the other one wasn’t?”
Many landlords have found applying for the program for rent assistance very confusing, and time consuming. Many tenants have sought to make the application for their landlords.
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce President Charla Robinson tells NetNewsLedger, “I am not aware of any local issues with commercial evictions at this time but continue to monitor the situation. To my knowledge, many local commercial landlords are working closely with their tenants to find solutions and offer support.”
CFIB has been campaigning for months for better rent relief, including:
- Allowing tenants to access CECRA funds directly, regardless of their landlord’s participation
- Expanding the forgivable portion of the Canada Emergency Business Account loan (currently 25 percent of the $40,000 loan is forgivable—CFIB is advocating for a 50 percent forgivable portion of a $60,000 loan).
- Extending commercial eviction protection to cover hard-hit businesses through more months until rent relief can be fixed