With the Ontario legislature reconvening today and the Premier asking for emergency powers to be extended until June 2nd, Toronto City Councillor Brad Bradford and the small business community are calling on the Province to introduce a moratorium on small business evictions under the extended powers.
Councillor Brad Bradord, Ward 19 Beaches-East York, said: “Ontario has taken unprecedented steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, investing tens of billions of dollars to protect our personal health, and the health of our economy. A moratorium on small business evictions is a critical tool to realize the full potential of those investments.
“As the Government is extending emergency powers, we have the ideal opportunity to make sure that those businesses who qualify for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program are not evicted before the program even rolls out.”
“Every additional week of expenses without revenue can break our small businesses. Without a moratorium, our businesses face a dire situation as the relief programs are taking several weeks to even launch. How many mom and pops will we lose if we don’t take these important steps now?”
Under Ontario’s Commercial Tenancies Act, starting May 16th, landlords can change the locks on small businesses for May rent. The CECRA program details were announced on April 24th and it is yet to launch. CECRA offers government support to landlords reducing rent by 75% by paying up to half of a small business tenant’s rent up to a maximum of $50,000 per month.
Billy Dertillis, Chair, The Danny BIA & owner, Red Rocket Coffee said: “Just like tenants, landlords are feeling the effects of the lock-down: they have bills to pay, and many of them are small businesses themselves. The uncertainty of CERCA pits the interests of landlords against tenants, and this unfortunately encourages evictions that don’t have to happen. Let’s give our main street businesses a fighting chance and press pause on immediate evictions over the short term, at least until we know who qualifies and who can benefit from CERCA, as well as from other programs across all three levels of government. For this to work, a commercial eviction moratorium needs to be coupled with suitable deferrals and relief for landlords as a result of cashflow interruption.”
Bradford added: “Putting a moratorium on small business evictions doesn’t mean that rent is being forgiven. This isn’t about calling out landlords or tenants. It’s about taking a pause and giving everyone time to figure this thing out. It’s about levelling the playing-field. This was supported unanimously by City Council at our April meeting, and we’re reaching the critical moment with May 16th just days away.”
Michael Smith, Co-Founder, savesmallbusiness.ca, said: “We’re hearing heartbreaking stories from across Canada of small businesses that won’t survive this pandemic. An eviction moratorium is needed to encourage many landlords to participate in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program and keep our main streets afloat.”
“Our message is clear: use the emergency powers that are being extended to include a moratorium on small business evictions. Early indications are showing that many landlords may not participate in the program. Our survey of 2,500 businesses found that 4 in 5 commercial landlords would not enter into CECRA deals with their small business tenants even if they qualified.”
- Estimates vary but tens of thousands of small businesses are predicted to close due to the impacts of the pandemic Canada-wide.
- A savesmallbusiness.ca survey of 2,500 small business owners last week found that 4 in 5 commercial landlords would not enter into CECRA deals with their small business tenants even if they qualified.
- A Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) survey on April 30th found:
- 36 per cent of small businesses don’t qualify because they don’t meet the 70 per cent revenue loss criteria
- 9 per cent qualify but know their landlord won’t participate
- 40 per cent qualify and are unsure if their landlord will participate
- 10 percent qualify and think their landlord will participate.
- An April 20th CFIB survey found that of over 7,000 businesses surveyed, over half (58 per cent) will not be able to pay May rent in full without further assistance.
RESOURCES & OTHER JURISDICTIONS
- Provincial Program Details
- CMHC Program Details
- Federal Announcement and details
- April 29: Councillor Bradford’s Letter to Premier Ford
- Other jurisdictions with a moratorium: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, New York State, California, Iowa, Rhode Island, UK, Germany, Poland