Like so many Small Business Owners, I’m tired. May 1st is here and Commercial Rent is due.
Like many in my position across Canada, I’ve spent the last 6 weeks advocating at every level of government for Commercial Rent Relief. I’m tired of watching the business I’ve built for 15 years disappear while every other G7 Nation provides stimulus for their Small Businesses.
Just over 2 weeks ago, the Federal government announced CECRA, a program that allows Commercial Landlords to take a loan and use it to offset their Tenants’ rent payments from April-June. However, rent being under Provincial jurisdiction, this formerly hot potato has cooled as they provinces try to figure out how to deal.
In Ontario, Doug Ford and Team are deliberating quietly. Right now they have the opportunity to improve on Federal guidelines and truly show Ontarians the Province is Open for Business…when we’re allowed to be open for business again. Sorry to sound a little cynical but there’s a reason for it, keep reading.
To recap, while many Small Businesses have been under mandatory shutdown for the last 6 weeks, we’ve been told:
1) You should have enough money in the bank to cover a few months of zero revenue
2) How about a loan to pay your rent?
3) Rent Relief is coming
5) Rent Relief is possibly coming from your Province
6) We hope you and your Landlord like each other
Many Landlords are just as confused as their tenants, and frankly, they’re being asked to carry an unfair burden through the mire of red tape that is the CECRA program. Canada could have implemented what has already been working in other countries. The United States has an extensive forgivable business loan program, Australia has rent reductions and grants, and the UK is giving grants to many businesses.
These countries have flowed cash Federal support directly to businesses so these enterprises can apply it directly where it’s most needed - whether that’s Rent, Wages or their expensive AF Adobe subscription. Their States and Counties, in many cases, are going even further — much in the way some Canadian provinces like Saskatchewan and BC have through Commercial Rent Freezes and Grants.
The reality is that Small Businesses fail regularly but now we’re talking about the collapse of businesses like mine that have been around for decades, have long-term employees and otherwise reasonable balance sheets. Like old growth trees in a forest, once they are gone, replacements take time to grow and until they reach a certain stage, the whole ecosystem is unstable. Every employee who has lost their stable workplace will be on the hunt and, with a glut of labour, will likely be put into precarious positions without further government protections. Neighbourhoods and Communities will be missing their trusted business voices and local favourite haunts — but it’s all avoidable.
Business Owners aren’t asking for a handout, we’re asking for consideration after years of paying taxes and supporting the economy. We’re reminding the governments that 80% of Canadians own or are employed by Small Businesses like mine.
We’re asking Governments across our country to remember that Small Businesses are the heart and passion of Canadian commerce and we need to keep that heart beating. Our success is yours — help us survive now so we can thrive later.
Chief Experience Officer
Go Tours Canada