Federal Government to Explore New Supports for Business
OTTAWA – A program that has helped some commercial tenants is being extended. Through the shutdown many businesses were closed, their main sources of revenue shut off. Paying rent became a major challenge. The federal government is also continuing to support the provincial banning of evictions during the pandemic. Ontario has lifted that ban as of September 1, 2020, despite calls from many business owners for the ban to continue.
However under the program, it was not the tenant who could apply for help, it had to be the landlord. There was confusion for many in how to apply. The government is continuing to process thousands of applications worth hundreds of millions of additional dollars of support. Property owners are encouraged to continue to make use of CECRA for eligible tenants and to work to provide flexibility where possible to their tenants as they recover from the crisis.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, and the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, the Honourable Mary Ng, announced that Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses will be extended by one month to help eligible small businesses pay rent for September. All provinces and territories continue to participate in this initiative and collaborate with the federal government to provide rent supports to those small businesses most in need. Current CECRA application deadlines will also be extended to accommodate this extension.
The Finance Department states that this will be the final extension of this program as the government explores options to support small businesses as they face the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic — including the challenges of fixed costs at a time when health concerns and precautions prevent many businesses from operating at full capacity. The federal government will continue to ensure Canadian small businesses have the support they need.
However the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says businesses need to know what is next now.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Director of Tax and Financial Policy, Patrick Gill says, “If CECRA is ending later this month, then main street businesses need to know what comes next, and they need to know now. Whatever comes next needs to be easier to use by Canada’s small businesses, and with more flexible options.
“As patios close and foot traffic diminishes with cooler weather, businesses need to know what help will be available to get them through this period of reduced revenues amid continued government restrictions.
The federal government continues to demonstrate an openness to improving its emergency programs for Canadian businesses and their workers. While Canada’s main street stores and restaurants will benefit from the one month extension of CECRA, they are disappointed the program wasn’t made more flexible.
While CECRA has been a lifeline for many main street businesses continuing to experience weaker demand than usual, many more businesses haven’t benefited because of program restrictions or disagreements with landlords.
The government has an opportunity to make a real difference for Canada’s businesses that continue to suffer from continued restrictions amid COVID-19. Rent is one of the most significant fixed costs a main street business has, and it should be a focus for the federal government going forward.”