Trudeau ‘really hopes’ landlords will apply for small business rent relief

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Herald file photo)

The federal government is asking landlords to help small businesses by applying for a new loan program in light of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the application portal for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) will open on Monday.

Trudeau originally announced the government’s intention to implement the program in mid-April.

The Government of Canada, along with all provinces and territories, will pay 50 per cent of the monthly rent to eligible property owners for April, May and June. In turn, landlords must absorb 25 per cent of the rent, leaving tenants to pay the remaining 25 per cent using other programs like the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).

“We know that if our economy is to come back, we need a large number of those businesses to hold on and to make it through this pandemic. That’s why we are providing commercial rent assistance to landlords and tenants and we really hope that they will take (us) up on it,” said Trudeau.

“With many people discovering that we can work from home to a much greater degree, there may be a lot of vacancies in commercial buildings over the coming months and years. Who knows exactly what the post-pandemic world will look like.”

The loans will only be forgiven if the property owner agrees to reduce the tenant’s rent by at least 75 per cent under a rent reduction agreement. It also includes not evicting the tenant while the agreement is in place and not recovering forgiven rent when the agreement is over.

According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), who will be handling the applications, CECRA does not apply for properties owned, in whole or in part, by someone holding a federal or provincial political office.

However, there are exceptions. This includes if the property owner is a crown corporation with limited appropriations designated as eligible for CECRA and if, for greater certainty, the property owner is a post-secondary institution, hospital, or pension fund.

Businesses that reopened on or after Mar. 1 are not eligible.

The deadline to apply is Aug. 31. For more information, visit the CMHC’s website.

Tam recommends masks where physical distancing isn’t possible, Shahab says Sask. has lots of space to do so

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam is recommending Canadians wear masks in situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. The province’s top doctor, though, said “One thing that we have in Saskatchewan is space.”

Tam made the recommendation on Wednesday shortly after Trudeau’s news conference. In it, the prime minister said he’s started following the guidelines by wearing a non-medical mask when he can’t consistently have a two-metre separation from others.

“We all need to adjust to what works in our circumstances and keep safety at the forefront of what we’re doing,” said Trudeau.

Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab agreed with the recommendation, but said a mask isn’t needed as much in the province because there’s less people.

“We have put that (space) to good use, whether it’s going out for a walk in the area that we live or even going shopping,” said Shahab.

“We generally can go about our daily business currently while maintaining a safe two-metre distance, so because of that I think as long as you do not go out while you’re symptomatic and you maintain that two-metre distance, that has served us well.”

Shahab said if you’re going to wear a mask, make sure you’re wearing it properly and that you don’t fidget with it. Touching your face without washing your hands first puts you more at risk to getting the virus.