Ontario tenants have found a measure of relief – while landlords are beset by even greater pressures – as the provincial government has approved a ban on commercial evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Protecting Small Business Act, which also reverses evictions, is applicable to businesses that qualify for federal and provincial rent assistance from May 1 until August 31. The duration matches the recently announced eviction ban of Alberta.
“We know COVID-19 has had a significant impact on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy,” said Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing.
Clark said that the policy is a vital component of Ontario’s post-pandemic recovery strategy.
“This legislation will allow us to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet so they can continue to create jobs and participate in the rebuilding of the provincial economy,” Clark said, as reported by Toronto Storeys.
Earlier this month, RBC Economics said in an analysis that the commercial sector must brace itself for significant losses in its tenant base, as small- and medium-scale businesses will be forced to go online to remain operational amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“This may seem ambitious, given the immediate challenges of survival that confront many business owners and operators,” RBC said. “But to be unprepared for a very different kind of recovery could be just as costly as the unprecedented collapse.”
Dawn Desjardins, deputy chief economist at RBC, said that there is no way to tell how long the economic turmoil will last.
“This could be a nine-month thing or it could be a two-year thing,” Desjardins told The Financial Post.