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Ontario proposing temporary ban on commercial evictions


TORONTO, ON. June 8, 2020 — Today at Queen’s Park the Ontario government announced that it intends to take action to protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized by their landlords due to the negative impacts of COVID-19. If passed, the province says the legislation would reverse evictions that occurred on or after June 3, 2020 and be in effect until August 31, 2020. The government intends to bring this legislation forward as soon as possible.

The proposed changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act would, if passed, temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance.

There has been a ban in place for residential evictions since early March but this new proposal is specifically geared towards commercial landlords and helping out small business owners.

“For many small business owners, today’s announcement is good news because our small businesses are struggling right now and for them, making rent is top of mind,” Ford said.

In partnership with the federal government, Ontario is committing $241 million to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses which is providing more than $900 million in support. CECRA for small businesses provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords to help cover 50 per cent of commercial rent for tenants for the months of April, May and June 2020.

Under the CECRA the tenant will be responsible for covering up to 25 per cent of rent, so that up to 75 per cent of the rent is covered. Tenants and landlords can learn how much they may be eligible for by visiting Ontario.ca/rentassistance.

Premier Ford added that many landlords are not taking advantage of the program, but they are still evicting tenants, which is the reason the province is moving forward with the legislation.

According to the premier, only seven thousand commercial landlords took up the rent relief offer.

“We need everyone working together to overcome COVID-19,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Commercial tenants who can pay their rent, must do so. Landlords should work with their tenants to come to an agreement and use this joint program. Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we need them to flourish.”

If passed, the proposed legislation would make it illegal to evict a commercial tenant until August 31, 2020.

“Working with the federal government, we are providing more than $900 million in relief to tenants and landlords,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “We’ve been clear we would support small businesses and today’s action does just that.”

“Ensuring the immediate future of our small businesses is critical to helping our economy recover and rebound,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “A moratorium on commercial evictions will bring stability to our small businesses and the employees and families they support. Their success is Ontario’s success.”

“Our small business owners are the backbone of our communities and now more than ever, we all need to support them. So please get out there, buy local and support your local small businesses,” said Premier Ford.

Meanwhile Toronto Mayor John Tory said: “Businesses of all sizes across the city have been at risk of shutting down or have experienced huge financial losses due to COVID-19. Removing any worry of being evicted during these difficult times will help allow businesses to stay open as we transition into the reopening phase of this pandemic,” said Mayor Tory.

While Toronto – Beaches City Councillor Brad Bradford posted a statement on Twitter, saying “It took thousands of calls, months of work and all three levels of government stepping up to address the pressures facing our main strrets, but the hard work is paying off.”

“The moratorium covers the most critical period for the COVID-19 closures impacting our economy as it’s expected to run from April to August,” said Bradford. While the province said it is effective from June 1.

Tory added that the ban is “absolutely the right thing to do” and Tory had mentioned the need for eviction protection a few times in the past during media gatherings and interviews.

The mayor has been encouraging landlords to apply for CECRA, and echoing sentiments from GTA residents and small business owners that it’s better to have a tenant who will pay their rent when they can, rather than losing the tenant with no certainty of a new tenant during these tough times.

“I want to thank Premier Ford and the provincial government for introducing this ban to help protect businesses in Toronto and across Ontario,” Tory said in a statement.

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