Relief measures will be more generous than previously announced for commercial tenants and owners/occupiers qualifying for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). Exercising flexibility built into the enabling legislation, the program has been extended for an additional four weeks, taking it Oct. 23, 2021, while the subsidy ceiling for the Aug. 29 – Sept. 25 period has been lifted to 40 per cent of eligible expenses, up from the originally offered 20 per cent.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the program revisions late last week, along with new rules for how businesses launched after March 1, 2019 can calculate revenue decline relative to the pre-pandemic period. Some of the latter group have been inadvertently excluded from receiving assistance because they did not generate revenue during prescribed reference months. Freeland also announced an accompanying extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to Oct. 23.
“Our economies are safely and gradually reopening, but many small businesses and workers are still getting back to business. Extending these supports, which have been lifelines for many, is needed,” she acknowledged.
Recipients will now be eligible for CERS coverage for up to 20 per cent of qualifying property expenses, such as rent, mortgage interest, property tax and utility costs, for the Sept. 26 – Oct. 23 period. Top-up support for an extra 25 per cent of property expenses will continue to be available for businesses and not-for-profit organizations in lockdown situations.
As of mid-July, the Canadian government reports 200,600 distinct organizations had received $5.24 billion through CERS relief measures, breaking down to $4.45 billion in basic coverage and $785.4 million in top-up lockdown support. To that time, 1,352,190 applications had been received throughout the 11 four-week periods of the program and 1,307,305 had been approved.