Ontario is pausing commercial evictions as the province continues with its COVID-19 recovery plan. On Wednesday night, the provincial government passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily halting or reversing the evictions of commercial tenants.
The act will protect these businesses from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. Tenant rights activists have been calling on the province to put a temporary ban on commercial evictions for months as small businesses across Canada continue to struggle in the midst of the pandemic.
The Act applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance for evictions from May 1 until, at least, Aug. 31, 2020.
“This legislation will allow us to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet so they can continue to create jobs and participate in the rebuilding of the provincial economy,” said Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, of the legislation, adding that small businesses are the “backbone” of the economy.
We know that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Ontario small businesses. That’s why tonight we passed the Protecting Small Business Act to pause commercial evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance. https://t.co/cmvxF58caP pic.twitter.com/FvuPmv0qnG
— Steve Clark (@SteveClarkPC) June 18, 2020
The pause on evictions, however, doesn’t apply to those already participating in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses, announced back in April.
The program provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords for the months of April, May, and June 2020. Under this program, landlords would be asked to forgive at least 25 per cent of the tenant’s total rent. Tenants would be asked to pay up to 25 per cent of rent, and the provincial and federal governments would pay the remaining 50 per cent — although there have been reports of landlords refusing to participate.
I know there’s a lot going on rn and everyone is trying to help. Sadly, in the midst of this a callous landlord is trying to close down Pam’s Roti— a beloved restaurant and long-standing staple of the Bloor West community. Plz check out Pam’s call for help and send a few emails. pic.twitter.com/KiSQnSDnp4
— Sierra 🕴🏻 (@sierravweiner) June 1, 2020
This makes pausing commercial evictions all the more crucial for small business owners during this time.
“Working with the federal government, we are providing more than $900 million in relief to tenants and landlords in Ontario through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses,” said Minister of Finance Rod Phillips.
Our government has passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily suspending evictions for small businesses to protect them as we recover from #COVID19.
— Rod Phillips (@RodPhillips01) June 18, 2020
Tenants and landlords can learn who is eligible and how to apply here. The application deadline is Aug. 31, 2020.