On April 23, I wrote an opinion piece about the need for a small business rent subsidy. I will not rehash all those details here, other than to say that over a month later, getting a subsidy like this off the ground quickly continues to be of utmost importance. It is the only way that we can make sure that we do not wake up in a post-COVID-19 world to boarded-up retail streets and communities that have lost their character.
When the government announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, I thought, “Great, our leaders are listening and doing the right thing.” Unfortunately, the devil is in the details, and this program so far appears to be a massive failure.
I run a small-business finance company, with thousands of active clients across Canada, giving me a unique perspective on the challenges of Canadian small businesses. The least I can do is try to use whatever voice I have to amplify their message in this urgent time of need. Small businesses have been forced to close to help slow the spread of COVID-19 — they have done so for public safety — and the public must repay them by helping them survive this unforeseeable catastrophe. For businesses that have been severely affected by COVID-19 lockdowns, the government should subsidize their rent in full, or at the very least, the current 75 per cent assistance program must be made mandatory.
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