Canada is drafting a new COVID-19 aid program that will subsidize rent for businesses without putting the onus on commercial landlords to request that help.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office is in talks with business leaders and provincial governments on the plan, according to people familiar with the discussions, with an announcement expected soon.
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The government allowed a similar program, known as Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, to expire last month. That plan didn’t have strong support because it required landlords to apply on behalf of tenants and to share in the financial pain — taking a reduction of as much as 25 per cent of the total rent payable.
The new program will allow businesses to apply directly for rent assistance, cutting the landlord out of the process, said the people with knowledge of the talks. Justin Trudeau’s government has a separate program that subsidizes wages for businesses that have suffered revenue declines because of the COVID-19 pandemic; it was recently extended to next summer.