Eviction moratorium a good start, according to CFIB

By Phi Doan

Ontario introduced a ban on commercial evictions that would protect small businesses during the pandemic. 

Until the end of July, any small businesses that qualify for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program cannot be evicted.

Julie Kwiecinski, Director of Provincial Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) appeared on Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke on 570 NEWS, and says it's a good start, but more needs to be done to help small business owners get through the pandemic.

“Probably seen and witnessed how quickly governments have been moving throughout this pandemic, and frankly nobody has a playbook for how to do this right,” she said. 

The rationale behind the eviction ban seems focused on convincing more landlords to sign on and agree to receive 50 per cent of rent payments, rather than nothing all together. CECRA is requiring both landlord and business owner to agree to the conditions, but very few landlords have signed on since it was introduced.

The CFIB represents around 42,000 small business owners across Canada, many of them taking part in surveys informing the organization lobbying. Kwiecinski says their main issue surrounds the threshold the federal government has set for CECRA. In order for small business owners to qualify for CECRA, they have to show that they have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenue.

“Now that this ban is in effect, we're going to be fighting to get that threshold lower, because if we lower that threshold, it means that more tenants can qualify.” 

“We have seen no significant changes. There have been minor tweaks, but nothing that's really expanded access.”

They hope to eliminate much of the red tape as possible, which Kwiecinski says many landlords have told them it has put them off the process all together, and would rather the money go directly to their tenant instead than deal with the paperwork.

She says CECRA will also have to be adjusted to deal with businesses starting to reopen, saying it's unfair to penalize them for making money when they won't return to pre-COVID-19 revenue levels for a while.

Kwiecinski is cutting the government some slack, as they've been through this situation already in regard to the Canada Emergency Business Account, which went through a number of rewrites addressing the gaps and loopholes the CFIB and others had pointed out.

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