Trudeau announces government rent relief for businesses as some provinces plan to reopen economies

Trudeau announces government rent relief for businesses as some provinces plan to reopen economies
Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced federal rent relief that will lower payments by 75 percent for some small businesses.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled further details of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), which will offer rent relief for businesses that can’t afford to pay landlords amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During his daily address to Canadians, Trudeau said the federal help will lower rent by 75 percent for affected small businesses.

The rent relief has been agreed upon by the provinces and territories, which have jurisdiction over rents, according to Trudeau.

The CECRA for small businesses will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 percent of three monthly rent payments payable by eligible small business tenants experiencing financial hardship during April, May and June.

“If you are a small business that has been strongly affected by COVID-19 and you’re paying less than $50,000 per month on rent, you will be eligible to receive this support,” said Trudeau. “It will also be there for non-profits and charitable organizations that are struggling right now.”

The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 percent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a pledge not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place, according to Trudeau.

The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 percent of the rent.

Trudeau added that the government will be making an announcement in the coming days about rent support for larger businesses.

Later today, Trudeau said he will be meeting with the first ministers to discuss reopening parts of the economy.

“Canada is a vast country and some regions have been hit harder than others,” said Trudeau. “We’re a federation so we have to adapt our response to the realities and challenges of each province and territory.”

Trudeau said the government will be working with each province individually to establish guidelines to start easing restrictive measures on the economy accordingly.

Despite hinting at reopening economies, Trudeau offered a word of caution.

“You need to know, we’re not out of the woods. It’s absolutely critical that everyone continues to follow local health instructions as we move forward,” said Trudeau.

Here in BC, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry suggested that there is hope some parts of society could begin to reopen in May, however, stresses this still won’t be a full return to “normal.”


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