The Ontario government introduced on September 17 the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act that would, if passed, freeze rent in 2021 for most rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled residential units. The bill would provide the vast majority of Ontario’s tenants with financial relief as the province continues down the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery.
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, our government promised the families, workers and small business owners of this province that we would have their backs and provide them with the support they need to get back on their feet,” said Premier Doug Ford. “The crisis is far from over and the threat of a second wave is real, as are the challenges it will bring. That’s why we need to take the necessary steps now to help families keep a roof over their heads and small businesses keep their doors open.”
The Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act also proposes to change the Commercial Tenancies Act to extend the temporary ban on evictions for commercial tenants. The ban was initially in place from May 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020, to align with the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses.
This temporary ban would continue to apply to businesses that are eligible for federal-provincial rent assistance through the CECRA for small businesses, but their landlord chose not to apply for the program. The ban will protect small businesses from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19.
“A big win”
The Ontario Restaurant, Hotel, and Motel Association (ORHMA) called the legislation “a big win for our industry at a critical time.” ORHMA added: “We realize this is a temporary fix enabling operators to keep the doors open while we are advocating for a government rental program that works. We applaud the Ford Government for this legislation.”
Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, added: “Our government wants to stabilize rents for Ontario’s 1.7 million rental households for 2021, because this year is not like any other year. We know that families are continuing to be impacted by COVID-19. We know landlords have worked hard to be accommodating and have made sacrifices. We know that by continuing to work together, we will move past this extraordinary time and get Ontario back on track.”
Extending the ban on commercial evictions would allow Ontario to continue to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet, so they can create jobs and help rebuild the economy.
“Our government has been there to support small businesses since the beginning of COVID-19,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “We partnered with the federal government to provide commercial rent relief and so far over 50,000 tenants have received support. Unfortunately, COVID-19 isn’t behind us. That’s why we are working with our federal partners to explore opportunities to ensure small businesses continue to receive the support they need.”