55 per cent say rent relief could make the difference between their business surviving COVID-19 or having to shut down

Half of small business owners in Canada say they are not able to pay June rent without further help from government, according to a new survey released Wednesday by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Key survey results include:

  • 67 per cent agree that more Canada Emergency Business Account money should be forgivable;
  • 65 per cent of small businesses say governments have been too slow in providing rent relief;
  • 55 per cent say rent relief could make the difference between their business surviving COVID-19 or having to shut down; this is as high as 80 per cent for the arts and recreation sector;
  • 50 per cent are not able to pay June rent without further help, this is as high as 70 per cent for the hospitality sector; and
  • 22 per cent fear eviction (on a previous survey 68 per cent supported provinces putting in place policies to prevent commercial evictions); fear of evictions is highest in Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta.

“We’ve been asking for rent relief since March. Even when CECRA (Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance) applications become available we know that program will leave businesses without the help they desperately need. The closer we get to June 1, the more stressful things are getting and the more business failures we will see. We’re begging governments to move quickly to create additional help outside of CECRA,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president. “Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to cover many more businesses is a great start and it’s urgent this be implemented in time for June 1. We would now like to see government increase the forgivable portion of CEBA which would go a long way to cover the CECRA shortfall.

“We described April 1 as scary and May 1 as feeling like a nightmare on Main Street. I don’t want to think about the words we’ll have to find to describe June 1 if governments can’t get their acts together to help businesses at this crucial time. Even with reopening, too many businesses will go down with no rent relief.”

The CFIB said it continues to advocate for the following rent relief measures:

  • Making CECRA available as quickly as possible, allowing tenants to access the 50 per cent relief when landlords don’t intend to apply for the program, and increasing eligibility (currently only tenants with a 70 per cent revenue drop qualify);
  • Increasing the amount of the CEBA loan and the forgivable portion of the loan;
  • Ensuring that loans from regional development authorities include a forgivable portion and are easy to apply for with a minimum of qualification criteria;
  • Reducing property taxes by a minimum of 25 percent; and
  • Protecting commercial tenants, otherwise in good standing with landlords, from eviction during the COVID-19 crisis.

 

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