Small business rent relief program announced; MP Duncan optimistic

MP Eric Duncan speaks to reporters during a Zoom conference call on Friday, April 24, 2020. Duncan is optimitic about a federal rent relief program announced today. (Zoom/Eric Duncan via Newswatch Group)

SDSG – The federal government has announced a rent relief program to help small businesses and landlords weather the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the relief program late this morning (Friday).

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program will provide forgivable loans to property owners covering 50 per cent of rent for three months (April, May and June). The property owner will absorb 25 per cent of the rent (agreeing to reduce the tenant’s rent by 75 per cent or more) while the business tenant will be responsible for 25 per cent.

In order to qualify, businesses have to be paying less than $50,000 per month in rent, plus they have had to temporarily stopped operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in revenues compared to before the pandemic.

Just before Trudeau’s announcement, Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan says he is awaiting details on the program, likely this afternoon, but on the surface it looks like it will help local small business.

“I did acknowledge that, I think it is a good program. We’ve been pushing for some sort of rent relief when there isn’t a lot of revenue coming in or reduced revenue coming in. I’m hopeful that many businesses will be able to take it up,” Duncan told Cornwall Newswatch.

Duncan hopes it will roll out better than the Canada Emergency Business Account – an interest-free loan up to $40,000 – where many businesses didn’t qualify.

“I encourage business owners to get back to be directly with their feedback because we’re feeding it up the chain. I will say that it’s been helpful for us to raise the points and get the changes where need be.”

“Certainly, rent relief has been a priority comment from a lot of the small business that rent and the landlords that rent to them,” Duncan said.