Gord Johns. Photo supplied

Courtenay-Alberni MP fights for small business

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that small businesses will be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Rent Support (CERS) program on Monday. This announcement comes after weeks of NDP calls to fix their flawed rent program and to extend the wage-subsidy into spring 2021.

“The Liberals have finally heard reason and fixed the program,” said Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, NDP Critic for Small Business and Economic Development. “We’ve been asking for them to make a tenant-driven commercial rent program and to continue to support the hardest-hit workers with an extended wage subsidy. Today we’re one step closer to saving small business in Canada.”

Bill C-9, which extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and created CERS, received Royal Assent on Nov. 19. Under CERS, small business owners will be able to apply for rent relief back to Sept. 27 without having to include their landlord. Under the previous program, CECRA, landlords were required to consent, which prevented many small businesses from applying.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Johns has risen more than 40 times in the House of Commons to speak on behalf of small businesses trying to obtain rent relief.

“Small businesses have been taking on massive debts for months, and while this program isn’t perfect it’s still a step forward,” said Johns. “We’re still hoping to see the government back-date CERS to April for those businesses who couldn’t get help back then. There’s still room for improvement.

“I want small businesses and their staff to know that we’re working every day to make sure your jobs are safe,” added Johns. “Small business keeps our local economies running, and we’ll be here to fight for you through the second wave of COVID-19.”