Government extends COVID-19 business rent relief program through September

The federal government has extended the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) by one month. The program will now cover businesses’ rent for the month of September.

The federal government noted in its announcement that this will be the final extension of the CECRA.

The CECRA provides unsecured forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their small business tenants that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is also intended to help owners meet operating expenses on commercial properties.

“As we work to safely reopen our economy, our government understands that things are still tough for our small business owners and that rent remains a major expense,” said Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade Mary Ng. “That’s why we are extending the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance by one month to include September.”

The federal government reported that as of September 7, the CECRA has facilitated over $1.32 billion in rent support to 106,000 small business tenants in Canada. The government noted that current CECRA application deadlines will also be extended to accommodate the latest extension.

Several organizations, including the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB), have been calling for another extension of the rent relief program, which was set to expire at the end of August.

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In addition to an extension of the program, the CFIB has also called for significant changes to the CECRA, including ensuring all who qualified for CECRA from April to September get 50 percent of funding from the government, even if their landlords won’t participate in the program, and extending provincial eviction protection.

Last month, the CFIB launched an online petition urging the federal government to enact specific changes to four COVID-19 aid programs, including commercial rent relief. A CFIB survey indicated that uptake for the program was particularly low, with only 15 percent of respondents reporting using the program.

In its recent announcement of the September extension, the federal government announced this will be the final extension of the CECRA, noting that it is exploring options to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further details on the September extension are expected to be published on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s website on September 9.

Image source Pixabay.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast