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Small business group calls for expansion of commercial rental relief program

Last Updated Aug 28, 2020 at 9:38 am PDT

FILE: Many businesses have been forced to shut down or scale back their operations amid the coronavirus pandemic. (CityNews Vancouver)

Small businesses want the federal government to extend its commercial rent program

CFIB is calling on the Trudeau government to make a big change to the rental assistance program if it is extended

Businesses want the government to eliminate the rule that says the landlord has to participate

OTTAWA – The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program is due to expire after Monday, but with small businesses still struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re calling on the federal government to help them.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is asking the Trudeau government to extend the support system, as well as make a big change to it.

The financial situation facing many small, medium, and independent businesses remains dire with one-third saying they are not getting the rental supports they need to keep going, and one in seven claiming to be at serious risk of shutting down.

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The CFIB’s Laura Jones adds that if the program is extended, the federal government should also wipe out the requirement that landlords participate.

“The problem with that is some landlords are not able, or willing, to participate in the program. And that can leave your entire future as a business dependent on another person,”Jones, who is an executive vice president at the CFIB, says.

Jones notes a small business owner may qualify from a revenue-reduction standpoint, but if the landlord isn’t willing to play ball, the business is left in a tough situation.

“There’s a lot of unfairness about whether you get the rent relief or not because that decision is entirely in the hands of your landlord,” she explains, saying businesses should be allowed to access the funding directly.

With the clock ticking until rent day, Jones and others hope new Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland hears their concerns.