Evictions for Restaurants and Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic Have Been Banned in Ontario

Announced by the Ontario government on the night of June 17, the Protecting Small Business Act was officially passed.

This comes after months of Premier Doug Ford publicly asking and, to an extent, threatening building owners who refused to help the tenants running their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled a majority of Ontario’s businesses.

Regarding the new legislation that effectively bans commercial evictions during the pandemic, Rod Phillips, The Minister of Finance and Chair of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee said: “Pausing evictions of commercial tenants is another way we are supporting small businesses and providing much-needed relief as we work to reopen the economy.”

The Finance Minister would also add that through the partnership with the federal government, Ontario will be able to provide “more than $900 million in relief to tenants and landlords in Ontario through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many municipal politicians, advocates, and small business owners had been pleading with the government to pause the evictions of businesses while the lockdown was in place, just like how residential evictions were stopped in March.

Ford refused to do so, as he had hoped that the landlords would cooperate with business owners once the commercial rent assistance program launched.

With that assistance program, the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (OCECRA) Program, the federal and provincial government would cover 50 percent of the rent costs while landlords and tenants would cover 25 percent each.

Despite the launch of that program, building owners refused to participate, even when Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory said strict action would be taken against them.

The newly passed act will ensure that the evictions of commercial tenants are effectively halted and ensures that the business owners will not be locked out of their stores or have their assets taken as the pandemic continues.

Not only will this legislation stop landlords from evicting business owners who haven’t been able to pay the rent after three months, but it will also apply to those who have already been evicted.

According to the new legislation, businesses that were evicted after May 1, 2020, will be protected by the act, and that will remain in effect until August 31, 2020.

“We know COVID-19 has had a significant impact on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy,” said Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“This legislation will allow us to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet so they can continue to create jobs and participate in the rebuilding of the provincial economy”.

With the ban on business evictions put in place, business owners won’t lose their stores if they can’t pull in their normal revenue.

Unfortunately, the new act won’t help business owners who have been evicted by landlords before May.

Quick Facts from the Ontario News Release: 

  • In partnership with the federal government, Ontario is committing $241 million to CECRA for small businesses, which will provide more than $900 million in support for small businesses and their landlords.
  • CECRA for small businesses provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords for April, May, and June 2020. Small business landlords would be asked to forgive at least 25 percent of the tenant’s total rent, tenants would be asked to pay up to 25 percent of rent and the provincial and federal governments would share the cost of the remaining 50 percent.
  • Tenants and landlords can learn who is eligible and how to apply at Ontario.ca/rentassistance. The application deadline is August 31, 2020.

Additional information and resources can be found on the Government of Ontario’s newsroom website: (https://news.ontario.ca/)

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