Province provides eviction protection for small businesses

The Government of Saskatchewan announced temporary commercial eviction protection for small business tenants during the COVID-19 emergency. The moratorium on evictions applies to landlords that are eligible to apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program but choose not to.

“We encourage landlords and tenants to work together, and we encourage eligible landlords to apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program, which will help support small businesses by reducing their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “For those eligible landlords who choose not to apply, there will be a moratorium on evicting small business tenants who are not able to pay their rent.”

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“This is great news for tenants to buy them some time to get their business back to some form of normal,” Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve McLellan said. “It should be seen by landlords and tenants as a tool to sustain a long term relationship. COVID 19 has impacted all businesses and this provides positive news and some welcome temporary protection for many. We thank the province for taking this proactive step.” 

“We are extremely pleased with this announcement of temporary commercial eviction protection for small business tenants in the province,” Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association President and CEO Jim Bence said. “We applaud the considerable efforts of the Business Response Team and we are very appreciative of the ongoing communication between the government and industry partners, with discussions resulting in swift, positive outcomes for many of the challenges facing our operators during these extraordinary times.”

“We thank the Government of Saskatchewan for taking this important step to provide commercial eviction protection to the many small businesses struggling to make rent payments but cannot access relief through the CECRA program,” CFIB Vice-President Western Canada and Agri-business Marilyn Braun-Pollon said. “Today’s announcement provides a safety net to help small businesses survive throughout the pandemic to rehire staff and reopen as safely as possible. We hope in the days ahead the federal government will fix the CECRA program to allow more small businesses and landlords to participate.”

The CECRA program began accepting applications from commercial property owners in Saskatchewan on May 27. In partnership with the provinces and territories, the federal program provides rent relief to small business tenants where their operations have paused or been curtailed and lost at least 70 per cent of their revenue as a result of COVID-19.

Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75 per cent rent reduction for the months of April, May and June 2020. The CECRA loans to landlords, which equal 50 per cent of total rent, will be forgiven if the landlord complies with program terms and conditions, including an agreement to not recover forgiven rent amounts when the program is over.

To qualify for the program, the commercial property owner must apply, and their qualifying business tenant must cooperate by signing an attestation on experiencing financial hardship.

“Small businesses in Saskatchewan are a critical part of our economy, and especially now as we move forward with our Re-Open Saskatchewan plan,” Harrison said. “We will continue working with our business community and working to support them, as they will be essential to our economic recovery in the important weeks and months ahead.”

Temporary commercial eviction protection is an order issued under section 18 of The Emergency Planning Act, where an emergency program with respect to commercial leases “applies to any lease between a tenant and a landlord who is not eligible for assistance under the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program in respect of that tenant for the sole reason that the landlord has not, as required to be eligible for that program, entered into a rent reduction agreement with the tenant that includes a moratorium on eviction.”

The emergency order restricting commercial evictions is effective immediately.

For more information on COVID-19 support for businesses and workers in Saskatchewan, please visit www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses.