Small businesses won’t survive without immediate action as many landlords not applying for CECRA

For immediate release June 4, 2020

Toronto, ON – A new survey of small business tenants and landlords across Toronto, Ottawa and Guelph shows that many landlords are not applying for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, leaving many small business owners without support.

Small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, forced to either close or offer curbside pick-up or delivery only. Their revenue has decreased drastically, but they still have to pay rent. On April 24th the federal government announced CECRA for small business. A month later, on May 25th, the portal to apply finally opened, much too late for many.

The survey results show:

  • 61% of businesses who qualify indicate their landlord has not applied for the rent assistance program
  • 72% of businesses could not make all of June’s rent
  • 95% of landlords did not receive all of June’s rent
  • 41% of businesses who needed rent accommodation indicate their landlord did not accommodate them
  • 29% of businesses are concerned about being locked-out

427 small businesses and 92 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 May which showed many felt CECRA was not enough to keep the lights on.

“I’ve heard from so many small business owners and they are struggling. Some have said their landlords do not want to apply for CECRA and expect them to pay full rent. Landlords have little incentive to apply, yet they are the only ones who can apply. This catch 22 can only be broken with a freeze on commercial evictions. The province needs to step up or else our main streets will be empty this summer,” said Councillor Fletcher.

“If Premier Ford is not willing to provide more financial support for small business, the province should at least take the steps that New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and now British Columbia have done and put a moratorium on commercial evictions,” said MPP Peter Tabuns.

Mark Kaluski, Chair of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA), is also worried about Ottawa small businesses. He said, “There have been concerns over eligibility requirements, the willingness of landlords to participate and when funding will arrive. Small businesses unable to make rent are worried that they will be locked out, and with each month that goes by the situation is getting worse.”

Marty Williams, Executive Director of Downtown Guelph BIA, shares the same concerns, “Small business owners have put everything into keeping their businesses alive, and they are getting little support in return. We need funding now and a moratorium on commercial evictions. Otherwise it will be a massive set back to our local economies, our communities and this province.”

“The urgency to save small business and our main streets is real. This survey shows that although there are good landlords, the majority are still not applying for CECRA, meaning small business owners are on their own to cover rent, fearing eviction or closure as their debt rises with little or no revenue. June 1st has passed and when July 1st comes we’ll see move evictions,” said Philip Kocev of iPro Realty Ltd. and Treasurer of the Broadview-Danforth BIA.

Small Business Tenant Survey Results

Landlord Survey Results

Survey Executive Summary

Letter to Premier Ford from Councillor Fletcher and MPP Peter Tabuns