Half of Canadian small business owners worried about June rent, CFIB says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With rent day fast approaching, one out of every two business owners in Canada says they’re worried they won’t be able to pay their rent come June 1.

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, a new survey finds half of respondents say they need help making June rent, and 55 per cent say additional relief could be the deciding factor in whether or not they shut down for good.

Rent relief is a subject the federation has been pressing the government on amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced a number of businesses to close due to a lack of revenue.

“Even when (Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance) applications become available we know that program will leave businesses without the help they desperately need,” Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president, says in a release. “The closer we get to June 1st, the more stressful things are getting and the more business failures we will see. We’re begging governments to move quickly to create additional help outside of CECRA.”

On Wednesday, the federal government launched the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program, which will cover 75 per cent of a commercial tenant’s rent. Of that 75 per cent, the federal government and provinces are paying half, while the landlord and business owner split the other half.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) was being expanded to help more people amid the health crisis. The changes mean more people will be able to benefit from the program, including, for example, hair salon owners who contract out chairs to stylists and physiotherapists who rent out space to others.

Meanwhile, 67 per cent of small business owners surveyed by the CFIB say more CEBA money should be forgivable.

The poll also finds a majority of respondents — 65 per cent — believe governments haven’t moved quickly enough to act on rent relief.

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