Federal Government Announces New Funding

NEW – Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy

Today the federal government announced a new commercial rent relief program called the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). Unlike its predecessor, this program provides direct support for small business tenants.  This replaces the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program which expired on September 30th, 2020.

From the government’s news release: ‘The new rent subsidy would support businesses that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020. Those businesses that are forced to temporarily shut down by any provincial mandatory orders will be able to qualify for funding that covers up to 90 percent of rent or mortgage interest payments.’

This has been a key focus of Business Improvement Association (BIA) advocacy since the pandemic hit back in March. We are pleased the federal government has finally made the changes that provide rent relief on a sliding scale and independent of landlord participation. While we are also pleased it will continue for the remainder of 2020 it is disappointing it is not retroactive back to April when the original program was rolled – a program that the majority of tenants could not access.

SGBIA remains concerned about what will happen in 2021. We will work with our advocacy partners to monitor the uptake of this rent subsidy program and if warranted push for it to continue to June 2021 to align with the extension to the wage subsidy program.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

The federal government also announced today it will expand the CEBA by $20,000 and this new interest-free loan amount will have a 50 per cent forgivable portion.

When combined with the original interest-free $40,000 loan program, which had a 25 per cent forgivable portion, the totally forgivable doubled for $10,000 to $20,000.

This means that qualifying businesses can access up to $20,000 that you will not be required to pay back.

The application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. Further details, including the launch date and application process will be announced in the coming days.

We have pushed hard to have this change made for the past six months knowing it helps make up a little for the poor access to the rent relief program. We were hoping this program could have been even more generous. Still, it is a positive move. We encourage businesses to look at this program carefully if you have not already applied.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

The wage subsidy program has been a key lifeline for many of our businesses but was scheduled to decline from 85 per cent of salary in August to 45 per cent in December. Today’s announcement freezes the subsidy at the current maximum of 65 per cent of salary until December. This program will continue through to June 2021.

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