Rent relief for Canadian small business needs to be reformed.

Rent relief for Canadian small business needs to be reformed.

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Canada’s Federal government has created a rent relief program to help commercial tenants dealing with financial hardship through the COVID-19 pandemic.


The CECRA (https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/finance-and-investing/covid19-cecra-small-business is designed to allow business owners to pay only 25% of their commercial rent, with the government kicking in 50%, and with the final 25% being discounted by the landlord. 

The program offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75% for the months of April, May and June, 2020.

The problem is that landlords hold the cards and can decide whether or not they want to provide the discount to their tenants. The expectation is that they (landlords) would be willing to take the 25% hit to their rental income in order to both help a struggling business and to potential salvage income where the businesses may not have the rent to pay anyway. 

Unfortunately, when a landlord opts not to provide the discount, the tenant receives no relief and it potentially puts both parties in financial ruin. 

This petition argues that true rent relief should be provided to the tenants without a contingency that the landlord should have to take a reduction in rent. Either way, helping a tenant should not hinge on a decision of another person. If this is true relief, it should be provided directly as such.

Whether you are a commercial tenant who has seen financial hardship and truly needs to be sure the government will help with your rent, or whether you are a commercial landlord who doesn’t feel that you should also take a reduction in revenue in order to ‘unlock’ the relief to your tenants, I would appreciate if you make yourself heard. 

We truly are all in this together, and the best of all of us will continue to shine during this pandemic, but this program is dangerously creating tougher decisions that could be avoided by adding steps that don’t need to be there. 

If the rent relief program followed a similar approach to the CERB or wage subsidy program, the tenants could apply directly for the 50% relief and have a basis to prove their need. Now is not the time to create potential strained relationships between landlords and their tenants. 

Thank you and stay safe. 

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