The federal government announced Friday it was extending the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program by one month to help eligible small businesses pay rent for August.
But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said it is disappointed the federal government has not provided any reassurance that the CECRA extension will provide relief to tenants who have not had access to the program.
“Many have been shut out either because their landlord is not participating or because the 70 per cent revenue loss requirement is too high. While today’s announcement is good news for those who can access the program, it is a slap in the face for those who have been shut out of rent relief for five months running,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President and Chief Strategic Officer of the CFIB.
“The program that has been grossly underutilized relative to its funding – today’s numbers show roughly a quarter of the allocated budget has been spent. Rent relief remains a critical missing piece of economic recovery for one out of three small businesses. With one out of seven businesses currently at risk of permanently closing, CFIB continues to call on the federal and provincial finance ministers to work together to make necessary changes to the program including allowing tenants to apply directly and reducing the revenue reduction requirement.
“Earlier this week, CFIB issued an open letter to finance ministers urging them to fix CECRA. If that can’t be done quickly, CFIB is asking provincial governments to pull their portion of CECRA funding and redirect remaining funds to support small business tenants that have not been able to access the program. Rent relief needs an overhaul now.”
According to the federal government, as of July 30, 63,000 small business tenants have been supported, representing over 616,000 employees, for a total of over $613 million in rent support. Additionally, CMHC is working with large property owners to help provide CECRA to more than 20,000 small businesses, it said, adding that thousands of new applications continue to be regularly submitted, demonstrating a strong interest in CECRA from property owners and small business tenants and the importance of this one month extension as businesses get through this challenging period.
“As a lot of small businesses across the country are gradually and safely reopening, further support is needed for those businesses hardest hit. The COVID-19 Economic Response Plan is working, and we’ve listened to the concerns of small businesses, and we are extending the rent relief provided through the CECRA by an additional month,” said Bill Morneau, Federal Minister of Finance.
“We need to continue supporting our small business owners because we know things are still tough – and the cost of rent remains a major expense for our entrepreneurs and small business owners. That’s why we’re extending the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance to include the month of August. Businesses and shops can rest assured that this rent relief will be there for them as they reopen and rebuild in the weeks to come,” said Mary Ng, Federal Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.