The Ontario government announced that it intends to take action to protect commercial tenants from being evicted by their landlords due to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, Premier Doug Ford said the government will put forth legislation to place a ban on commercial evictions between June 3 and August 31 for small business that qualify for the federal government’s Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.
“For many small business owners, today’s announcement is good news because our small businesses are struggling right now and for them, making rent is top of mind,” Ford said.
“That’s why we worked to get $900 million to help businesses with commercial rent relief and I was clear with commercial landlords, you have to be fair and help out everyone. But we still heard about some landlords who just didn’t get the message.”
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Ford added that landlords not taking advantage of the program but still evicting tenants is the reason he’s moving forward with the legislation.
According to the premier, only 7,000 commercial landlords took up the rent relief offer.
The CECRA program started in April, which allowed the government to provide forgivable loans covering 50% of rent to property owners if they reduce rent by at least 75% in April, May, and June.
The tenant will be responsible for covering up to 25% of rent so that up to 75% of the rent is covered.
“Our small business owners are the backbone of our communities and now more than ever, we all need to support them. So please get out there, buy local, support your local small businesses,” Ford said.
In Toronto, Mayor John Tory said that ban is “absolutely the right thing to do,” and says he has repeatedly called on the Ontario government to act.
“I want to thank Premier Ford and the provincial government for introducing this ban to help protect businesses in Toronto and across Ontario,” Tory said in a statement.
He added that over the past months, he has advocated for the tenants by calling for a ban on commercial evictions as a way to provide relief for businesses during these times.
“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.
The mayor asked that landlords apply for CECRA, as it’s better to have a tenant “who will pay their rent when they can than no tenant at all.”
The Ontario government allowed a ban for residential evictions in March.