Halton Regional Council Support Freezing commercial evictions

Wed, 20 May 2020

This morning Halton Regional Council unanimously supported a Resolution brought forward by Town and Regional Councillor Jeff Knoll and seconded by Mayor Rob Burton to freeze commercial evictions in Ontario and update the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (OCECRA) program.

Councillor Knoll’s resolution calls on the Province of Ontario to freeze commercial evictions for a period up to and including 30 days following the conclusion of the Provincial order declaring an emergency.

“We have all read stories of small business owners having their doors locked on them by their landlords with no notice. A province-wide freeze on commercial evictions will address this issue during the State of Emergency as we get closer to June rent payments being due and the OCECRA program launch has yet to be launched,” said Councillor Knoll.

“The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business have also identified this as a critical issue and support a moratorium on commercial evictions. Small businesses in Halton, Ontario and Canada need to be protected.”

The Resolution also calls upon the Federal and Provincial governments to resolve barriers to participate in the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (OCECRA) program and launch the program immediately.

“I want to thank the Premier for his remarks on this matter. They show that he is actually getting the message and that he understands that the program still has some flaws.

This is in fact our third message to the province on this matter and we’ve seen our letters and resolutions from the town get picked up and endorsed by many other municipalities. I believe that several of the changes and fixes that we’ve achieved to date have been a result of municipal pressure,” stated Mayor Burton.

“In order to work the OCECRA program needs to address the fact that many tenants may not qualify or benefit from the program. And some landlords have indicated that they will not participate or are eligible to participate. Without changes to the announced OCECRA program, an increasingly large number of small businesses will be put in a position where they may be faced with permanent closure,” cautioned Mayor Burton.

In a letter to the provincial and federal Ministers of Finance, Mayor Burton and Oakville’s Economic Task Force offered suggestions for changes the OCECRA program that include:

  1. The suspension of the evictions of commercial tenants
  2. Allow tenants to make an application for the rent assistance if the property owner does not want to apply or is ineligible
  3. Allow property owners to make one application for all of their properties rather than individual applications
  4. Lower the 70 per cent revenue decline threshold for tenants