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Ontario introducing legislation to ban some commercial evictions, Doug Ford says

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario bans commercial evictions for some small businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday that he has ordered legislation be drafted to ban commercial evictions for those who qualify for the commercial rent relief program. He said that the ban on evictions would last until Aug. 31.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his government is introducing legislation to ban some commercial evictions amid the coronavirus pandemic despite previous refusals to do so.

Ford made the announcement as he revealed plans for parts of the province to enter Stage 2 of economic recovery this Friday.

“For many small business owners, today’s announcement is good news because our small businesses are struggling right now and for them, making rent is top of mind,” Ford said.

READ MORE: Ontario reopening Stage 2: Groups of 10 allowed, places of worship to reopen amid coronavirus pandemic

“That’s why we worked to get $900 million to help businesses with commercial rent relief and as I was clear with commercial landlords, you have to be fair and help out everyone. But we still heard about some landlords who just didn’t get the message.”

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Ford said the legislation would ban commercial evictions for those who qualify for the commercial rent relief program.

“The ban would take effect on evictions on or after June 3 and last until Aug. 31,” Ford said.

READ MORE: 5 business groups urge Ontario to halt commercial evictions during COVID-19 pandemic

“Our small business owners are the backbone of our communities and now more than ever, we all need to support them. So please get out there, buy local, support your local small businesses.”

The announcement comes despite previous refusals by the Ford government to implement such a ban.

NDP Economic Growth and Job Creation Critic Catherine Fife released a statement Monday afternoon calling Ford’s decision “long overdue” but “too restrictive.”

“Small business owners and BIAs have been urging Doug Ford to ban commercial evictions for months now,” Fife said.

“Now, the protection is too restricted. A business needs to have lost 70 per cent of their income. That’s excluding thousands of businesses that are in crisis and need help. As this measure only begins on June 3, this does nothing to save the business owners who have already been evicted by their landlord during the pandemic.”

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Fife said while the move is a step in the right direction, the province should look to implement a broader ban on commercial evictions and give direct supports, including a six-month rent freeze.

Ontario effectively banned residential evictions in March.