Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a rent subsidy program to help small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program titled Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance is meant to help small businesses cover their rents for April, May and June. It will lower rent by up to 75 per cent for eligible small businesses, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.
Trudeau told his press conference that his government has reached an agreement with all provinces and territories to implement the program for businesses.
The program, to be funded jointly with the provinces and territories, will provide non-repayable loans to commercial property owners to cover 50 percent of rent payments for those three months.
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.
The businesses eligible for this rent relief are those that have to pay less than 50,000 Canadian dollars (about US $35,455) per month in rent, must have had to cease operations, or must have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.
The program is also being made available to non-profits and charities.
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.”
Trudeau announced that his government will offer guidelines for provinces that are preparing to reopen their economies in May.
“We need to make sure that as we look at economic reopening, we are grounding ourselves in the principles that we don’t allow for future spread,” he added.