COVID-19 rent relief for small businesses ‘essential’ to survival: Calgary restaurant

Federal rent relief for small businesses ‘essential’ to survival: Calgary restaurant
The federal government has announced it will provide rent relief for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. As Christa Dao reports, it's news Calgary businesses have been asking for and call "essential" to their survival.

For one Calgary business that’s been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government’s new rent relief program is “essential” to keep their doors open and food on peoples’ tables.

OEB Breakfast Company said it’s had to lay off about 200 people across its restaurants and has seen an 80 per cent drop in sales.

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READ MORE: Trudeau announces rent relief of 75% for small businesses affected by coronavirus

The once-bustling breakfast joint had to pivot to only takeout and delivery, and according to marketing director Teale Orban, the rent relief will make a huge different to the bottom line.

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“Initial reaction is positive. We’re looking for any sort of relief,” Orban said.

“That’s one of the huge, biggest challenges right now right. No matter what we can do to move forward, our fixed costs don’t change.

“Relief of that rent is essential for the long-term success of our business and other restaurants.”

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said it’s pleased with the program, which will provide much-needed relief for small business owners.

According to the CFIB, the number one concern from its members was rent and according to a recent survey, more than half of small businesses could not have survived next month without help.

“This announcement is a good first step. Obviously, the announcement came out today but we did see some positives in the early details,” CFIB Alberta director Annie Dormuth said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Calgary extends cancellation of all public events until August 31

Anyone who enters into the program would also be protected from evictions. According to the CFIB, that needs to be expanded to include all businesses.

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“A lot of provinces do have full-on commercial eviction protection whereas Alberta does not, and we have raised those concerns to the government,” Dormuth said.

READ MORE: Rent freezes, eviction deferrals needed amid coronavirus fallout: experts

The program is expected to lower rent for businesses by 75 per cent and applies to any small business that pays less than $50,000 per month in rent.

Eligibility also includes businesses that have had to temporarily close or see a 70 per cent drop in revenues.