â€œThis government is quick to bail out large corporations, but so far, small businesses have been left to struggle with commercial rent payments on their own,â€� said Johns. â€œSmall businesses and the people who run them are key to our communities and they need help paying their bills right now. More than the loans the government has offered, what weâ€™re proposing will help support tenants and the landlords that opt in.â€�
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, only 6 in 10 businesses were in a position to to pay their commercial rent in full for April. Even with the help already being provided, the same survey showed 42% of small businesses are worried they will have to permanently close. Nearly 70% of over 25,000 businesses surveyed by savesmallbusiness.ca expect to default on their lease by May 1.
In their letter, Johns and Julian laid out proposals for rent abatement programs which would have the government cover up to two thirds of commercial rent from April through June to a maximum of $6,600 a month. They also pointed out the government still hasnâ€™t used its legislative power to make the banks and credit card companies give all Canadians a break on fees, interest, and payments on mortgages, loans, and credit card bills.
â€œIf the government wonâ€™t go after the banks, they better help the people the banks are going after,â€� added Johns. â€œWeâ€™ve outlined some solutions and we hope the government will work with us to support small businesses.â€�
New Democrats are asking the government to follow the example of other countries such as France, the UK, Denmark, and Australia who have all taken action to provide relief and subsidies to small business for commercial rents so that they survive these unprecedented times.