Toronto, ON – A new survey of small business tenants and landlords across Toronto shows that the current Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program is not enough to keep small businesses alive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
503 businesses and 138 landlords took part in the survey which was coordinated by the Broadview-Danforth Business Improvement Area (BIA) and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA). This is a follow up to the previous survey in April that showed rent relief was desperately needed.
The results show:
- 44% of businesses are concerned about being locked-out for not being able to pay rent
- 63% of businesses could not make all of May’s rent and 74% feel they will not make all of June’s rent
- 81% of landlords did not receive all of May’s rent and 84% feel they will not receive all of June’s rent
- 60% of tenants feel their landlord will not apply for the CECRA program vs. 40% of landlords who indicated they do not plan to apply
On April 24th the federal government announced CECRA, however it is clear there is concern over eligibility requirements, how to apply, if landlords will participate and when funding will arrive.
Small businesses unable to make rent are worried that they will be locked out on May 16th, and despite repeated calls for a moratorium on commercial evictions, the province has still not announced further action.
City Councillor Paula Fletcher, who has been strongly advocating for main street businesses during the pandemic, said, “I’ve heard from many small businesses and although they are happy to finally see a rent relief program, it doesn’t go far enough. We’re getting to a critical stage and if we don’t see amendments to CECRA and a freeze on commercial evictions, these businesses won’t survive.”
Ginger Robertson, owner of The Edmund Burke and Off the Hook, said, “The government anticipated 80% participation by landlords and the reality is that many actually won’t. By their own stats they have failed. What is taking so long for real help for small business?”
Another local small business owner, Jennifer Jones of Joy of Dance Centre, would like to see stronger relief programs. She said, “Small businesses are bleeding right now. We are handcuffed and up against the wall, held hostage by landlords who have no choice but to charge us rent because they have no financial relief being provided to them. Right now the government needs to act and not just make hollow promises.”
“It is obvious that if the rent assistance program doesn’t make drastic changes, and soon, our main streets will look vastly different by summer, as the number of businesses unable to make rent grows. We are still waiting for details outlining how CERCA will be implemented – and what information is available is difficult to understand, alienating landlords and giving them little incentive to participate in the program,” said Philip Kocev, Broker at iPro Realty Ltd. and Treasurer of the Broadview-Danforth BIA.