Alberta partners with feds to offer rent relief for small businesses

by Morinville News Staff

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program Friday morning, and the Government of Alberta says it will be joining the program. The province expects to spend $67 million on CECRA.

Both the feds and province say CECRA will give certainty to small businesses by providing 50 per cent of monthly commercial rental costs. Eligible landlords and tenants would each be responsible for 25 per cent of the remaining costs.

The program is open to small business tenants paying less than $50,000 per month in rent who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.

“We know a number of Alberta’s businesses are struggling during the pandemic,” said Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Tanya Fir. “Our partnership with the federal government will provide much-needed relief to small businesses on their rental payments. Small businesses create jobs – and are extremely important for our
communities and our economy.”

CECRA will provide a loan retroactive to April 1 to qualified commercial property owners supporting 50 per cent of rent for April, May, and June of this year. The loan will be forgivable if the property owner and tenant come to a rent forgiveness agreement that lowers the eligible small business’s rent by 75 per cent for the three months and includes a moratorium on eviction.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Friday the Premier’s announcement that he would pay into CECRA comes with some serious pitfalls.

“Providing assistance to cover up to 75 per cent of commercial rent is a positive step, but the plan announced by the federal government today falls short because small businesses are only eligible for rental assistance if they have lost 70 per cent of their revenue.

“Thousands of struggling entrepreneurs who have seen a significant loss of business—40, 50, 60 per cent of their revenues—won’t get any support,” Notley said, adding Kenney should stop letting Ottawa take the lead.

“If we want Alberta’s economy to be ready to rebound from this pandemic, we must ensure that all businesses have the support they need to weather this storm,” Notley said.

The CECRA program is anticipated to be running by mid-May. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will administer the program. CMHC will provide details in the coming weeks when final terms and conditions are available.

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