As May 1 approaches, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns says more than half the businesses in his riding don’t have enough money to pay rent.
The NDP critic for Small Business and Tourism penned a letter Wednesday, April 29 to federal Small Business Minister Mary Ng to express concern about the lack of support for self-employed individuals and sole-proprietors across Canada.
In B.C., Johns said one-third of small businesses don’t believe they will qualify for government support. This is especially true for the ‘mom and pop businesses’ with less than five employees.
He said decisions have been left in the hands of landlords, not tenants. If the former opts to relax 25 per cent of rent, then half the rent program will be picked up by senior governments. Which leaves 25 per cent to the tenants.
“The CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Business) says that one-third of businesses don’t trust their landlord to be reasonable,” Johns said in an interview. “The government can fix this simply by working with the provinces to institute a moratorium on all evictions, giving the government time to make a plan that helps all tenants.”
He notes government created a measurement that calls for a 70 per cent loss of revenue requirement, which leaves out too many businesses.
“A tiered system would support more businesses and ensure they could re-open their doors over the coming months. They’re using a 70 per cent drop in revenue for the requirement for the rent program, but they’re only using a 30 per cent drop in revenue for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. We’re calling on the government to use the same measurement.”
The NDP is also calling on the federal Liberals to use gross revenue as another measurement to offer scaled loans and non-repayable grants for businesses.
“I really believe that we are within a week of the greatest collapse of small businesses in the history of Canada, if the government doesn’t fix these programs and this rollout,” Johns said. “These are huge problems.”