OTTAWA â€“ While Liberals have become increasingly focussed on their own scandals and internal divisions, New Democrats are again calling on the government to fix the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA) so that help finally be sent to the small businesses that create jobs and contribute to communities large and small across the country.
â€œIt has never made sense to anyone outside the Liberal government that a program supposedly intended to help small business owners pay their rent would be set up to target and provide full control to the landlords,â€� said NDP Critic for EconomicDevelopment and Small Business Gord Johns. â€œNow we know, instead of designing a program that targets help to those who need it, the Liberals paid tens of millions of dollars to a mortgage company with connections to the Prime Ministers Office who then designed a program targeting their potential customers â€“ the landlords. This decision has had real and devastating consequences on people.â€�
In a letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Minister Ahmed Hussen, Johns and NDP Finance Critic Peter Julian point that there seems to be a clear link with the decision to privatize the program and the fact that many small business owners across the country are still waiting for the critical help the government promised them months ago.
It was recently revealed in media reports that the Liberals went around the public service and hired a company where the Prime Ministerâ€™s Chief of Staffâ€™s husband is a Vice President to manage and administer the program.
â€œBecause the program is not targeted to tenants, the uptake has been abysmal. Only about a fifth of the funds the Liberals promised would be delivered to support small businesses has been approved â€“ never mind gone out the door,â€� said Julian. â€œThe Liberals still have an opportunity to fix this program and get help to those who need it. But they need to move now.â€�
The NDPâ€™s three proposed fixes outlined again in this most recent letter, all aim to make the support accessible and predictable for the tenants â€“ the small business owners.