Call to Action: Small-Medium Businesses and Tenants in Dire Need of Government Support dur

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Individuals and small-medium businesses need immediate and government mandated relief on rent and related expenses.

With the recent State of Emergency declared in Ontario, many people have followed the advice of the government and health officials of Canada to practice social distancing and protect the health and safety of their families, friends, colleagues and greater communities.  This is necessary and important for the health and well-being of our country and its citizens.  In these extreme circumstances and effecting the steps necessary to protect us all, there are also dire consequences that stem from them – percussive economic strain on individuals and small-medium sized businesses.  These consequences, if not quickly addressed, could result in a medium-term result of bankruptcies to businesses and individuals across Canada.

The Canadian Government has stepped up to provide $82-billion in support ($27-billion through direct support and $55-billion through liquidity measures such as extending tax deadlines), however the aid made available does not provide meaningful support to small-medium businesses or adequately address the critical issues faced such as having to pay fixed expenses such as rent with little to no revenue coming in to support these costs.

The emergency support measurements available, such as subsidizing 10% of payroll costs, while appreciated by businesses across our Nation, do not assist small-medium businesses in service industries that do not have the ability to operate remotely (i.e. from home or in self-isolation) and require direct contact with their customers.  This includes, but is not limited to, restaurants, fitness businesses, salons, cinemas, retail outlets with deemed non-essentials (e.g. stores in malls), and many others. 

Small-medium businesses employ and support millions of Canadians, and are either ordered through the declared State of Emergency to close their doors to enable effective social distancing or forced to bare the burden of trying to stay open (even though they want to close them) to be able to afford fixed costs such as rent, taxes, utilities, etc., while having a severely diminished client base coming in due to being responsible citizens and following the social distancing/self-isolation practices to protect us all.  The end result is that businesses have no means generate revenue to cover their costs and bank accounts are draining, and if there is no Government subsidized or effected solution, they will go bankrupt. 

If this is not addressed swiftly, longer-term, this leaves the millions of Canadians who are able to benefit from temporary measures such as Employment Insurance (EI) and the Emergency Care and Benefits Programs left unemployed and with no jobs to go back to.  This is the future State of Emergency we will be facing without prudent action now.

The most significant cost that small-medium businesses need support with immediately is rent and related expenses.  While businesses that have little or no income currently being generated can effect measures of cutting discretionary (non-essential) expenses and staff reductions such as lay-offs (where EI can be accessed by individuals), they need support where they cannot take measures to weather the storm of this pandemic.

The large financial institutions of Canada have generously and consciously sought to offer 6-month deferrals to borrowers on mortgages.  Individuals and small-medium businesses that have the inability to operate remotely need corresponding relief extended to them.  Similarly, for individuals, while EI and related benefits are undoubtedly helpful, it does not necessarily cover them to be able to remain in their homes.

Current measures offered such as enabling ease of borrowing and building debt do not work.  These measures kick the can down the road and create further long-term burden on our businesses and citizens. They create an ecosystem where many continue to suffer while few are able to benefit or prosper.  In Canada, this cannot be an acceptable measure.

We need our landlords to offer relief to individuals and businesses during this time.  Not optional relief, but government instructed and mandatory. 

This is essential for the long-term prosperity of our Nation and so when we come out the other side of this pandemic we are stronger, more unified and demonstrate the characteristic of what Canada truly is – a country of unity, togetherness, innovation and community.  Truly the greatest country on earth.

As rent is a provincial matter, if you or someone you know is affected by this, or you support this, please sign the petition and make a call to your provincial Premier (Doug Ford in Ontario, 416-325-1941).  Share your story and how this has impacted you or your business.

Together we can invoke the change that is required to allow everyone to get through this pandemic and continue to prosper after.

To the MP’s across our great Nation, our Premiers, Prime Minister Trudeau and all other honorary officials, we need your help.  Please help us.