July 22 in the House of Commons, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns called on government to allow commercial tenants to apply directly for rent relief rather than rely on their landlords to access funds on their behalf.
“Although the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program has been extended, it hasn’t been fixed,” Johns told Minister of Finance Bill Morneau. “Just 12 per cent of landlords have actually gotten rent relief for their commercial tenants.”
The federal government announced the CECRA in partnership with provincial governments on April 24. The program is intended to assist small and medium businesses to meet rental obligations but is only available to business owners if their landlords participate. The take-up on the program has been very low as most landlords have declined to apply.
“In just 10 days, their rent is due again and they still need help,” Johns said. “Will the government fix this mess of a program and let tenants apply for the CECRA so their businesses can survive?”
The minister said government will continue to consider improvements but did not undertake to consider opening up benefits directly to commercial tenants.