Posted on May 21, 2020
NDP CALLS FOR COMMERCIAL EVICTION BAN FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
EDMONTON – As Alberta’s economy begins to re-open, Jason Kenney and the UCP government must take greater steps to support and protect small businesses working to reopen their doors.
According to a recent survey, 88 per cent of Canadian businesses support provinces implementing temporary eviction protection. Right now, half of small businesses are not able to pay June rent without further help from the government and a further 55 percent say rent relief could be the difference between their business surviving the pandemic or having to shut down.
The Alberta NDP is calling on the UCP to immediately ban commercial property evictions, and implement real financial support for small businesses struggling to afford rent.
“We can’t have businesses reopen their doors just to have a ‘going out of business’ sale,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “Jason Kenney needs to stop waiting. Rent is due in 10 days. These businesses need real support, and while they’re waiting for that, they need assurances they will not be evicted for being behind on their rent. Jason Kenney and his UCP government must implement an eviction ban for small businesses.”
Problems with the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program are well-known, including restrictive eligibility criteria and low uptake by commercial property owners.
“Right now, entrepreneurs are sitting on pins and needles wondering if their landlords will go for this program, and in the meantime, a rent deferral doesn’t help. How are we ever going to make that up?” asked Kirsten Proulx, owner of Henry’s Interiors, design, decor and furniture store. “My landlord hasn’t committed to applying. I don’t want to come to work one day and find my door locked. That’s terrifying.”
“Restarting a massive economy, especially one the size of Alberta, is not an easy task. In order to succeed, we have to prime the pump a little bit. We’ve already begun to see business failures and we need to do more now to prevent them in the future,” said Riccardo Francese, owner of Vaticano Cucina restaurant in Edmonton. “These are good ideas to help small business owners bridge the gap.”
The NDP is calling on the UCP to:
- Ban on commercial rent evictions during the state of pandemic.
- Go back to the drawing board on CECRA, either rewriting criteria or pulling Alberta’s investment in order to build our own program for commercial renters.
- Grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 for physical business improvements and startup costs to comply with public health orders.
- Direct relief on utility bills that go beyond just deferrals.
- PPE acquisition plan led by the provincial government, that would include a list of Verified Vendors so business knows who to trust.
- Freeze business insurance premiums retroactive to March 18, 2020, and to provide a 50 per cent reduction on those premiums until December 31, 2020.
New Brunswick, the United Kingdom, Australia and numerous states in the U.S. have already implemented protections against evictions for commercial property tenants.