New Rent Assistance Program Launches, CEWS Extended

Please note: the federal government is constantly updating their website as new information is announced. Remember to check Canada’s official coronavirus webpage and CREA’s COVID-19 online hub to stay up to date.

The federal government’s newest COVID-19 financial support bill received royal assent last week, effectively enacting much needed changes for two important programs.

Bill C-9 launches the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) while extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

CERS replaces the widely criticized Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) by providing a subsidy on certain expenses directly to organizations that have suffered a revenue drop. The maximum base rate would be 65%, available to organizations with a revenue drop of 70% or more. The base rate would then gradually decline to a rate of 40% for organizations with a revenue drop of 50%, and then would gradually reduce to zero for those not experiencing a decline in revenues.

The new program also includes a lockdown rent top-up of 25%, available to organizations with locations that are temporarily forced to close or have their business activities significantly restricted by a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, province or territory.

Despite these improvements, it’s been raised that CERS requires business owners to pay their rent before receiving the funding. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance they will address the issue in a new bill that will formalize rent payable as an eligible expense.

Bill C-9 also extends CEWS to June 2021. More information about changes to the rates and top-up calculation is available on the Government of Canada’s website.

CREA has been advocating for many of these program improvements since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and is pleased to see our recommendations pass into law. These changes provide much needed assistance to the REALTORS® and brokerages who have been counting on financial support to get through tough stretches over the past few months.

The measures covered in this email are part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. The government is constantly assessing the evolving situation and is likely to introduce additional measures as it deems necessary. We are monitoring the implementation of existing measures and continue to advocate on behalf of REALTORS® as new initiatives are developed.

This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. If you need professional advice you should consult a lawyer, accountant or other qualified professional.