British Columbia Minister of Finance Carole James has announced a new order that prevents small business tenants from being evicted if their landlords haven’t applied for federal rent support.

The eviction ban is a new order that falls under the Emergency Program Act (EPA).

During a press conference on Monday, James said small businesses have told the B.C. government that not all landlords have applied for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistant (CECRA) program.

“Preventing landlords who are eligible for the program from evicting tenants can encourage landlords to apply for the program, which will then give some relief to businesses who have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” James said during the announcement on Monday.

According to the government, businesses whose landlords choose not to apply for the federal CECRA program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments through to the end of June 2020, as determined by the federal program timelines.

The EPA order restricts both the termination of lease agreements and the repossession of goods and property.

The B.C. government said the CECRA program provides relief for small businesses experiencing severe financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants and to meet operating expenses on commercial properties.

Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75 per cent rent reduction for the months of April, May and June 2020.

The CECRA loans to landlords will be forgiven if the landlord complies with program terms and conditions, including an agreement to not recover forgiven rent amounts when the program is over.

James says the federal and B.C. governments will cover 50 per cent of the rent payments, while the tenants are responsible for 25 per cent of the rent and landlords cover the remaining 25 per cent.

The emergency order restricting evictions is effective today. James says the B.C. eviction protection program could be extended beyond June.

The announcement is part of the province’s recovery plan on Monday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BC COVID-19 Action Plan announcement from James comes on the same day that schools are reopening in the province. Along with schools, June 1 marks the opening of several BC parks for overnight camping as well as the same day that the minimum wage increases throughout the province.

The last time that James addressed BC residents was back on May 8 when she outlined the unemployment numbers and jobs lost during the pandemic.

James said during her previous press conference that over the course of March and April, since economic restrictions have been put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, 396,500 jobs were lost in British Columbia.

The province is currently in phase two of is COVID-19 restart plan and has yet to see any major setbacks in regards to new cases.

The province had originally aimed to enter phase three at some point between June and September.

At the onset of the pandemic, James and the BC Government announced an action plan that saw an investment of $5 billion to help people and businesses sustain amid the crisis.

With files from The Canadian Press

CHEK News