NDP calling on UCP to ban commercial evictions

by Morinville News Staff

Alberta NDP Opposition is calling on the UCP to ban commercial property evictions and implement what they see as real financial support for small businesses struggling to afford rent.

“We can’t have businesses reopen their doors just to have a ‘going out of business’ sale,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley in a media release Thursday. “Jason Kenney needs to stop waiting. Rent is due in 10 days. These businesses need real support, and while they’re waiting for that, they need assurances they will not be evicted for being behind on their rent. Jason Kenney and his UCP government must implement an eviction ban for small businesses.”

The NDP cites the restrictive eligibility criteria and low uptake for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program by commercial property owners as part of the reason they are calling for an eviction ban. Citing a recent Canadian Federation of Independent Business member survey, the NDP says half of the province’s small businesses are not able to pay June rents without government help and a further 55 percent say rent relief could be the difference between their business surviving the pandemic or having to shut down.

Kirsten Proulx, owner of Henry’s Interiors, a design, decor and furniture store said entrepreneurs are sitting on pins and needles wondering if their landlords will go for this program. “In the meantime, a rent deferral doesn’t help. How are we ever going to make that up? My landlord hasn’t committed to applying. I don’t want to come to work one day and find my door locked. That’s terrifying.”

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In addition to a ban on commercial rent evictions during the state of the pandemic, the NDP is calling on the UCP to go back to the drawing board on CECRA, either rewriting criteria or pulling Alberta’s investment in order to build our own program for commercial renters. They are also asking for grants of $5,000 to $10,000 for physical business improvements and startup costs to comply with public health orders, as well as direct relief on utility bills that go beyond just deferrals, a government-led PPE acquisition plan, and a freeze on business insurance premiums retroactive to March 18, 2020, and to provide a 50 per cent reduction on those premiums until December 31, 2020.

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