eviction ontario

Small businesses are demanding Ontario immediately stop commercial evictions

As small businesses across Ontario continue to struggle financially amid the global health crisis, calls on the province to put a temporary ban on commercial evictions are growing. 

Countless businesses have shut down in recent months after being kicked to the curb for failing to pay rent, and a growing movement is encouraging business owners and other residents to put pressure on the province to issue a commercial eviction halt.

#SaveYourLocal is a website that was created to unite small business owners in their fight for survival, and to encourage others to help save the businesses they love. The site is currently promoting "May 12th Day of Action" and encouraging people to fill out a form that automatically sends an email to their local MPP.

"The provinces have the jurisdiction to save small businesses but are choosing not to. Help us fill their inboxes demanding support," the website reads.

So far, as of Tuesday morning, 649 people have filled out the form and subsequently sent letters to their respective MPPs.

"Small Businesses in [your jurisdiction will go here] are in desperate need of government support. The physical distancing requirements to protect the public from COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on small businesses. While small businesses were quick to close to help save lives, the government has been slow to provide basic support to ensure they are able to reopen," the letter reads.

"As your constituent, I am seeking your support to protect small businesses. Without your help, many will be unable to survive."

The issue of small businesses not being able to afford rent has been prevalent since the pandemic started, but it's been particularly pertinent in recent days and weeks following the announcement of the federal-provincial commercial rent assistance program (OCECRA). 

The program aims to help commercial landlords and tenants by offering forgivable loans to any landlord that signs up, leaving the tenant to pay just 25 per cent of the original rent. But the program is optional, and it means the landlord is forced to lose 25 per cent of their typical income as the government loans only cover 50 per cent, so many are refraining from registering altogether.

This, coupled with the fact that the provincial government has issued an order halting all residential evictions but has yet to do the same for commercial tenants, is putting many in a tough spot. 

Toronto Mayor John Tory even addressed the issue during his daily press briefing last Friday, and he urged all commercial landlords to work with their tenants and figure out some kind of arrangement in order to avoid an eviction.

"The real bottom line is this: all commercial landlords should be working out some arrangement to defer rent or otherwise work out something reasonable with their small business tenants," said Tory on Friday.

"This is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense," Tory added, explaining that forcing a business to close would leave a landlord with one more vacant property on their hands "when we already have far too many of those."

"If more landlords don't start doing the right thing," he continued, "I believe the Ford government will have no alternative but to ban commercial evictions, as I have been urging them to do for several weeks now."

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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