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'I'm here for the little guy': Ontario announces ban on commercial evictions until September
A closed store front boutique business called Francis Watson pleads for help displaying a sign in Toronto on Thursday, April 16, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced he has ordered legislation to ban commercial evictions for businesses who qualify for the federal rent relief program.
“Our small businesses are struggling right now and for them, making rent is top of mind, and that's why we worked to get $900 million to help businesses with commercial rent relief,” Ford said at a news conference on Monday.
“But, we still heard about some landlords who just didn't get the message. Well, I'm here for the little guy. That's why I've ordered legislation to ban commercial evictions for those who qualify for the commercial rent relief program.”
Ford has repeatedly called on "greedy landlords" to take part in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, which offers eligible commercial property owners 75 per cent of what they would normally collect in rent from their tenants.
The ban would take effect for evictions on, or after, June 3 and last until August 31.
“Our small business owners are the back bone of our communities and now, more than ever, we all need to support them. Please go out there, buy local, support your local businesses,” Ford said.
In April, The province pledged $241 million through the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA), in partnership with the federal government, to assist businesses in need. In total, the provincial-federal relief fund would see $900 million handed over to those most affected.
However, a recent report by the Globe and Mail indicates that since the program opened two weeks ago, only 16,000 landlords of the country's 1.2 million small businesses have agreed to take part in the program.
At least 40 per cent of Canadian small businesses meet the eligibility criteria for the Canada CECRA, according to a recent study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses
The announcement is welcome news for businesses in Toronto.
An April survey of hundreds of small businesses across the city found that nearly two-thirds of them may have to close down for good within three months as they struggle to keep up with rent and other bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey, which was developed by the Broadview-Danforth Business Improvement Area (BIA), involved 561 small businesses and 137 landlords.
Mayor John Tory reacted to the proposed ban saying it is “absolutely the right thing to do.”
“Businesses of all sizes across the city have been at risk of shutting down or have experienced huge financial losses due to COVID-19. Removing any worry of being evicted during these difficult times will help allow businesses to stay open as we transition into the reopening phase of this pandemic,” Tory said in a statement issued on Monday.
“I continue to call on landlords to do everything possible to support their tenants and to apply to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. As I have said before, it’s better to have a tenant who will pay their rent when they can than no tenant at all.”
With files from Codi Wilson and Chris Fox.