November 22, 2020 | Danny J. McMullen
As per our earlier blog post, the federal government announced the creation of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (the “CERS”) program on October 9th. The CERS program was created to replace the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program which provided rental assistance to commercial tenants. There were quite a few technical and procedural concerns with the earlier program that the CERS program is meant to resolve.
The CERS program does not only provide assistance with the payment of “rent” but also provides coverage for other “qualifying rent expenses”. These expenses include property taxes, property insurance and interest on commercial mortgages. The announcement that businesses will be able to apply to the program as early as Monday November 22nd is incredible news to Ontario businesses, charities and not-for-profits who have seen significant drops in revenue. This is particularly true right now as several places in Ontario are facing renewed shut downs as per the Government of Ontario’s most recent announcements. To determine how much assistance the CERS program will provide, and for more details about how the program will function, McCarthy Tétrault LLP has put together a great description here.
The biggest technical and procedural hurdle that the CERS program is intended to overcome is that commercial tenants will be permitted to apply directly for the program as confirmed in the following CBC story here. Earlier descriptions of the program required that tenant’s pay rent first and then request the subsidy. This was criticized because many tenants simply do not have the funds to pay for their rent and will need the subsidy to make it happen. As per the most recent reports, the finance department has notified the Canada Revenue Agency (the “CRA”) that it will be pursuing a legislative amendment to have “rent owed” considered a qualifying expense at the time of the application. This amendment will permit organizations to use the subsidy to pay for rent and other qualifying expenses then owing. The CRA will be administering the program and all applications will be made through each organizations CRA online portal. To the extent that you believe that you qualify for the CERS assistance, please follow this link to begin the application process: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-rent-subsidy.html.
For any assistance in applying for the CERS or if you have any questions regarding the CERS program at all, please do not hesitate to reach out to Northview Law to discuss, click here to book an appointment to discuss how the CERS program may assist your organization.