10/09/2020 14:59 EDT

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy For Businesses To Replace Liberals' Much-Criticized Rent-Relief Plan

Imposing new restrictions amid a second wave "is the right thing to do, but it imposes costs," Freeland says.

Patrick Doyle / Reuters
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks to reporters next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ont., Aug. 18, 2020. Freeland has announced a new rent support program for businesses.

OTTAWA, Oct 9 (Reuters) ― Businesses can now apply directly to the government for emergency rent support, after Canada replaced its previous expired, and much criticized, rent-relief program on Friday.

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) program will provide direct support to businesses and other organizations that are facing revenue losses, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters. The program will run through June 2021.

The government will also provide “additional, targeted” supports to businesses that are forced by public health order to temporarily close to help curb coronavirus infections, Freeland said.

Watch: Why commercial rent relief didn’t work. Story continues below.


“As we fight the second wave of COVID-19, public health officials have been imposing new restrictions. That is the right thing to do, but it imposes costs,” said Freeland. “This new targeted support will help businesses get through the lockdowns.”

Freeland also said the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program had been extended to June 2021. She did not immediately provide cost estimates for the CEWS extension or the new rent subsidy program.

Under the previous rent-relief program, which expired at the end of September, landlords had to apply for a forgivable loan that would cover half of a tenant’s rent. The tenant had to pay a quarter and the landlord had to absorb the remainder.

It was budgeted at $2.97 billion in Canada’s July fiscal update. As of Oct. 7, it had helped some 130,000 small businesses at a cost of about $1.8 billion, the government said.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Richard Chang)