Take commercial landlords ‘out of the equation’ for rent relief, says CFIB

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Canadian Press

A lobby group says landlords need to be taken “out of the equation” of the government’s small business rent relief plan as another month’s rent comes due.

An open letter from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says participation in Canada’s Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program is still too low, and that provincial and federal finance ministers need to reform the program.

CFIB executive vice-president Laura Jones says the CECRA program was designed so that tenants, landlords and the government would each bear some of the monthly rent payment for struggling businesses.

But in practice, CFIB said landlords are not participating in the program, which offers a forgivable loan from the government worth 50 per cent of rent, as long as the landlord agrees to reduce the tenant’s rent by 75 per cent.

Jones says the bar to qualify for rent relief has also proven to be too high for businesses, citing the rule that tenants must show a 70 per cent decline in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About $367 million in funding has been paid out to 42,000 small business tenants, according to July 17 statistics from the Department of Finance.

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