COVID-19 Canada Emergency Rent Assistance CECRA program

The Commercial Rent Assistance program in Canada is not what it seems

CECRA is essentially based on a lie, benefiting property owners instead of businesses.

On April 24, Justin Trudeau announced the details of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, where businesses would receive some relief from having to pay all their rent from April to June. As per the announcement by Justin Trudeau below, the program was introduced as an agreement that the federal government had already reached and solidified with provinces and territories to provide a 75 per cent reduction in rent to businesses; 50 per cent would be paid for by the government, and the property owner or landlord would accept a 25 per cent reduction.

“Today I can announce that we have reached agreement with all provinces and territories to lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been strongly affected by COVID-19 for April, May and June,” Prime Minister Trudeau said. “The government will cover 50 per cent of that reduction with the property owner covering the rest. If you are a small business that has been strongly affected by COVID-19 and you are paying less than $50,000 per month on rent, you will be eligible to receive this support.”

What we have since learned is that the business owner does not get to apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. That responsibility falls with the landlord or property owner. And if the property owner is not willing to accept a reduction of 25 per cent in their rent payments, then what are the chances they’re going to apply for the program to get you the additional 50 per cent?

We spoke to Marek Whitechurch and Katia Jananji, co-owners of MonoKrome Salon in Montreal, about their eligibility for the CECRA.

“The big problem with the program is that it’s optional for the landlords,” says Jananji. “They have to apply for it, we can’t do anything about it. The government pays 50 per cent, we pay 25 and the landlord has to cover the other 25 per cent. It’s like telling them, ‘Hey, do you wanna lose money? No? Well then you don’t have to.’”

“With that in mind, we spoke to our landlord and we agreed to a slightly lower fee — it’s still hurting us quite badly — but I did mention this program to them they said they weren’t sure,” Whitechurch added. “The whole thing with this government program is that it’s more (for the landlord) to help pay the mortgage than to help the tenant.”

The application process for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program was projected to begin in mid-May. More details and clarification could be forthcoming. ■

See more details about the the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program and other federal financial aid programs here.

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