Governments still missing the mark on small business rent relief: CFIB
CFIB reports that 12% of businesses consider bankruptcy and winding down
TORONTO – Anxiety for many small businesses remains high as they head into a third month of severely reduced revenues and no rent relief, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
While the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program opened May 25, many continue to report it won’t help them either because their landlord won’t apply or they do not meet the revenue loss criteria of 70%.
Adding to these challenges, CFIB has received hundreds of calls and comments from both tenants and landlords frustrated with the CECRA application process. Comments range from confusion over the amount of financial information required to apply, complex attestation forms, and technical difficulties with the application portal.
“It’s June 1st and rent relief is a mess that needs a major clean-up,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president, in a prepared statement. “Workable rent relief is make or break for over half of the small businesses we surveyed and governments need to make this a top priority yesterday.”
CFIB is calling on governments to do three things immediately to address the rent crisis:
- Allow tenants to access their share of CECRA support directly through the program or find another means to get money to those that need it. For example, they could expand the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans to at least $60,000 (from $40,000) with an increase to the forgivable portion from 25% to 50% (from $10,000 to $30,000).
- Fix CECRA by simplifying the application process, expanding the number of months it covers, and reducing the 70% revenue loss criteria.
- Put in place a temporary moratorium on commercial evictions for tenants otherwise in good standing with landlords.
“Without resorting to swearing, I can’t emphasize strongly enough how important it is to fix CECRA and put in place a decent safety net for tenants whose landlords won’t use it. This cannot wait until July 1st. We don’t want to see a good chunk of Main Street going down over the ineffective execution of a well-intentioned program,” concluded Jones.