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Commercial rent program projected to fall short of budget, report shows

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Restaurants face more challenges as subsidies wind down' Coronavirus: Restaurants face more challenges as subsidies wind down
WATCH ABOVE: Many small businesses in Canada have seen the effects of the pandemic buffered by a federal government subsidy that reduces their rents. But now, as Seán O’Shea reports, a program is winding down leaving businesses like restaurants and bars more vulnerable. – Sep 1, 2020

A federal spending watchdog says a program aiming to provide rent relief to small and medium-sized businesses will cost just under $1 billion this fiscal year.

The report this morning from the parliamentary budget officer says the commercial rental-assistance program will now cost $931 million after it was extended through to August.

Read more: Feds extend coronavirus rent relief program for businesses

The updated spending projections from the parliamentary budget office still put the program on a track to provide less help than the nearly $3 billion the Liberals budgeted.

The program provides forgivable loans that cover half of rent for eligible small businesses, and also requires landlords to waive a further one-quarter of what they’d otherwise be owed.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says applications open now for rent relief – May 25, 2020

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is warning that too many small businesses still haven’t been able to access the help because it relies on landlords to apply and sets a very high bar for revenue losses to qualify.

The association is asking the government to allow tenants to directly apply for help.

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