The federal government is expected to announce rent relief to help businesses shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an April 24, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The federal government is expected to announce rent relief to help businesses shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an April 24, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Feds to unveil rent relief for businesses forced to shut down during pandemic

Feds to partner with provinces and territories

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today significant rent relief to help businesses that can’t afford to pay their landlords at a time when their operations are shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal help is expected to be provided in partnership with the provinces and territories, which have jurisdiction over rents.

Small- and medium-sized businesses, most of them shuttered since mid-March, have been clamouring for relief as the May 1 deadline for their next rent payments looms.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business president Dan Kelly told the House of Commons finance committee on Thursday that he was expecting an announcement as early as today.

Kelly said 70 per cent of the CFIB’s 30,000 members pay monthly rent for their business premises and, of those, 55 per cent report that they can’t afford to pay their rent next month.

Kelly said struggling businesses need a non-repayable rent subsidy, not loans or deferral of rent payments.

He was hoping the federal government would pick up the tab for at least 75 per cent of the monthly rent owed by businesses that have been forced to close in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

He urged the government to make the rent relief “broadly applicable” to all small- and medium-sized businesses, without imposing a lot of cumbersome eligibility criteria that he predicted would cause some business owners to “give up.”

“If we do that, I think we have fighting chance of having the majority, not all, but the majority of our small business community make it across the emergency phase of this (pandemic),” he told the committee.

“Remember, businesses have been ordered to shut down in order to protect society and it is deeply unfair that they would have to pick up the costs of keeping real estate open and paying those bills while they are essentially unable to earn an income.”

Trudeau is also scheduled to hold a conference call with provincial and territorial premiers this afternoon, at which he is expected to raise another issue that is under provincial jurisdiction — the tragedy unfolding at under-staffed long-term care homes where more than half of Canada’s deaths from COVID-19 have occurred.

Trudeau last week promised the federal government would top up the wages of frontline workers in seniors’ facilities but said it would have to be done in consultation with the provinces. The issue was discussed during last week’s first ministers’ conference call but there was no resolution since not all provinces are experiencing the same dire problems that are plaguing long-term care homes in Quebec and Ontario.

Since then, the situation has deteriorated, with the two largest provinces calling on the federal government to send in the military to help care for people in long-term care facilities.

At his daily briefing Thursday, a visibly upset Trudeau called the situation ”unacceptable.”

“We are failing our parents, our grandparents, our elders, the greatest generation who built this country. We need to care for them properly,” he said.

“In Canada we shouldn’t have soldiers taking care of seniors. Going forward in the weeks and months to come, we will all have to ask tough questions about how it came to this. We will all have to do more to get through this terrible situation.”

Trudeau is also expected to take part tonight in a virtual vigil for the 22 people massacred by a lone gunman masquerading as an RCMP officer in northern Nova Scotia last weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2020.

BusinessCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said while cases numbers are steadily declining, they can still not ease the COVID-19 measures put in place last month. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Dean Olsen Missing Poster
Blackfalds RCMP seek public assistance to locate missing male

Dean Olsen was last seen on Jan. 20 in Red Deer County

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Central Alberta teenager donates filled 20 backpacks to Red Deer Mustard Seed

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County says he ‘just wants to help people’

A conveyor belt transports coal at the Westmoreland Coal Co.’s Sheerness mine near Hanna, Alta., on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Coal mining impacts are already occurring in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry’s presence in one of the province’s most beloved landscapes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
As Alberta debates coal mining, industry already affecting once-protected Rockies

UCP revoked a policy that had protected eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb. TC Energy Corp. is planning to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
TC Energy cutting more than 1,000 Keystone XL construction jobs as Biden pulls permit

Some 200 kilometres of pipe have already been installed for the expansion

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read