Call grows for a temporary ban on commercial evictions in Toronto to save small business

Tenant rights activists in Ontario are calling on the province to put a temporary ban on commercial evictions as small businesses across Canada continue to struggle in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to protect local businesses by banning commercial evictions would essentially save the city’s main street business areas including the downtown from “becoming ghost towns,” as some put it.



In March, the provincial government announced that no new eviction orders would be issued for residential tenants in response to the evolving coronavirus outbreak; however, commercial landlords across the province are legally permitted to lock out small business owners who don’t pay their rent, according to the Commercial Tenancies Act.

Since the outbreak, many businesses have closed—some temporarily and some permanently—and others have been evicted.



Even with help from the feds in the form of loans through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), small businesses have said that criteria is strict — some don’t qualify or simply aren’t in the position to go further in debt—so even temporary closures might lead to permanency.



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Suze Morrison, Ontario NDP MPP for Toronto Centre, is just one of many advocates calling for a number of implementations to support small businesses, including a 75 per cent commercial rent subsidy (up to $10,000), a ban on commercial evictions, a utility payment freeze, and a remote-work set fund.

“Our community is worth it,” she said, re-tweeting a plea to change the commercial rent assistance program so small businesses in The Village can survive.



The website #SaveYourLocal was formed, urging provincial governments to support small businesses by implementing two key measures: issuing a moratorium on commercial evictions and making the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) mandatory for landlords. It suggests offering forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75 per cent for the months during the pandemic.

The idea is gaining traction across social media.


Article exclusive to TRNTO