Small Businesses Need Rent Relief Now

Hi I’m Aaron Binder, President of the Corktown Residents and Business Association and Chief Experience Officer of Go Tours Canada. After surveying dozens of businesses in our neighbourhood, my team began advocating for Commercial Rent Relief, an eviction freeze and grant programs instead of loans.

Our survey data indicated that on May 1st, over 70% of businesses in our neighbourhood would be unable to pay rent. May 1st has past and according to a recent survey by Save Small Business, only 1 in 5 landlords is taking advantage of the CECRA program. This has left many business owners still uncertain about their futures and asking ‘would you take a loan to pay the rent?’.

In short, businesses across Canada have been ordered to shut down while still being expected to pay up.

There’s a bigger picture too. Businesses across Canada, like mine, support our country’s Tourism economy. If we don’t protect this robust industry now, Canada will lose one of its biggest export products to other destinations that will be ready to welcome the world back — and we had just convinced the world we’re not just Tim Horton’s and Niagara Falls.

While it’s true that businesses regularly shut down, we’re talking about the failure of mature enterprises with long-term employees and normally solid balance sheets. Losing these community anchors will set us back decades. What I want to know from our governments is this — what is a tolerable failure rate?

To the governments, I do recognize you understand the importance of small business, you’ve already set aside money for the CECRA program. But the preliminary data shows it simply isn’t working.

Business owners in our neighbourhood and across the country are asking for real support after years of growing the economy, paying taxes, and employing over 70% of Canadians. We’ve shut our doors to protect public health, and now we need support, to protect local jobs and products.

Our small businesses are the heart of Canadian commerce and innovation. Do we want boarded-up main streets, or healthy communities with great local jobs? This question is why my team at Corktown is calling on the Provincial and Federal governments to enact a Commercial Eviction Freeze, Enhance the CECRA and implement Grant programs for qualified businesses so we can all bring back our employees and restart on the right foot. We need you to support our enterprises now so we can thrive again later.

The Toronto-based Social Entrepreneur. CEO Go Tours Canada + Segway of Ontario.