Headline News By Kathleen Harris 778 Views

Ottawa offers rent relief for businesses as some provinces prepare to reopen economies

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced a new rent subsidy program to help businesses forced to shut down due to the global pandemic, as some provinces begin to lay out plans to reopen their economies.

The rent relief plan, to be funded jointly with the provinces, will provide non-repayable loans to commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of rent payments for April, May and June.

The loans will be forgiven if the property owner agrees to cut the rent by at least 75 per cent for those months and promises not to evict the tenant. The small business tenant must cover the remaining portion of the rent, which would be up to 25 per cent.

To qualify, small business tenants must pay less than $50,000 a month in rent. They also must have experienced a revenue decline of at least 70 per cent from pre-COVID-19 levels, or they must have been forced to close down because of pandemic restrictions.

Non-profit and charitable organizations are also eligible.

Trudeau acknowledged that some struggling businesses won't even be able to come up with their portion of the rent.

"We recognize that COVID-19 is hitting some people harder than others, some areas harder than others, and unfortunately this is something we are grappling with," he said.

"We are trying to help as many people as possible."