June 8, 2020 by THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO – The Ontario government is putting a temporary ban on commercial evictions to help small business owners who are struggling to pay their rent amid the COVID-19 fallout.
Premier Doug Ford says the moratorium applies to small businesses who qualify for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program, where their revenues have dropped at least 70 per cent due to the pandemic.
Ford outlined the details at a news conference, saying the ban will take effect for evictions as of June 3 and last until Aug. 31.
The province’s emergency commercial rent program launched in April to help small businesses pay their landlords, but it relied on the landlords themselves to apply, leaving the tenants hanging in the balance if they didn’t.
“I was clear with commercial landlords – you have to be fair and help out everyone,” Ford said.
“But we still heard about some landlords who just didn’t get the message.”
Ontario joins British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia as provinces that have implemented some form of a commercial eviction ban.
Last month, five business groups co-signed an open letter calling for the Ontario government to impose a commercial eviction moratorium during the pandemic, warning that many small and medium-sized businesses were at risk of closing as June rent came due.
The organizations included the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, Restaurants Canada and the Retail Council of Canada.
Toronto mayor John Tory said the ban on commercial evictions is the sensible “next step” in protecting businesses in the city.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Feature image via iStock.com/nito100