Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday an update to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program to help Canadian businesses survive the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“Canadians want to know that their jobs are protected and their families are safe and healthy. That’s why we’re stepping up to provide support that will keep workers on the payroll, protect middle class jobs, and help Canadians recover quickly once we make it through these difficult times,” said Trudeau.
The federal government said CECRA will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners, whether they have a mortgage on their property or not. The loans will cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
It said the loans will be forgiven if the qualifying property owner agrees to reduce the small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent under a rent reduction agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.
The government said impacted small business tenants are businesses that are paying less than $50,000 per month in gross rent in a given location, with annual revenues of less than $20 million (at the ultimate parent level), and who have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.
The program will be opened for applications beginning on May 25.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact on Canadians. We thank and commend the many property owners who have already taken action to help their tenants during this crisis. With CECRA, the Government of Canada is stepping up to support Canada’s small businesses. The forgivable loans will significantly lower the rent for small business tenants and keep them prepared to bounce back when this crisis subsides,” said Minister of Finance Bill Morneau.