Since April 1st, Main Street businesses in Toronto have been strongly urging the provincial and federal governments for commercial rent relief and a ban on commercial evictions. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, small businesses in Toronto-Danforth, across Toronto and across Ontario have been asking for help.
Six weeks ago on April 24th the federal government announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small business, however the portal to apply did not open until May 25th. Small businesses were left on their own to pay rent for May and June with no relief or protection.
On April 30th Toronto City Council passed a motion requesting the provincial and federal governments amend CECRA and immediately enact a moratorium on commercial evictions.
The results of surveys conducted by the Broadview-Danforth Business Improvement Area (BIA) and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) have surfaced the problems with CECRA. Not only are the eligibility requirements too high, CECRA requires landlords, not tenants, to apply. Small business owners with landlords unwilling to participate are stuck on their own.
Today, Premier Ford finally announced the province will bring legislation forward to enact a ban on commercial evictions until August 31st. Sadly, it will not apply to all businesses, but only to businesses experiencing a 70% drop in revenue during the pandemic.
The future of Main Streets depends on rapid provincial legislation to freeze commercial evictions and quick action by the federal government to fix the eligibility requirements so it will be easier for businesses to access its rent relief program.
These are the efforts Main Street businesses need to keep the lights on.
Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth