Rent relief for businesses hard hit by COVID is slow in coming

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“I sent the copy of my invoices – the money was in my account in five days,” he said. “We really appreciate… the (federal ESRB) help coming in, but the lifeboat has to be there now.”

Amr Elimam, owner of the Papyrus restaurant on Danforth Avenue, said he believed the federal government was trying to be responsive, but it took a long time to apply for and get funds from the rent subsidy program.

Once able to apply, the funds arrived within a reasonable time, Elimam said.

However, because Papyrus has been able to adapt to the pandemic, losing income but not as much as others, he cannot benefit from government business support programs to the same extent, he said. .

“Every dollar, maybe, of additional sales that I generate penalizes us in terms of bottom line given the impact on these subsidies,” Elimam said. “If I had to stop marketing, for example, I would probably be better off.”

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Julie Kwiecinski, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), which advocated changes to the original rental subsidy program, said she would have liked to see a smooth transition from the old to the new instead of a long gap.

“However, it’s important for us to point out that the new program is much better – for example, you can only get it if your landlord applies on your behalf,” she said.

The previous program required a loss of income of at least 70% to access the funds, while the new ESRB will apply even if the loss is much smaller, she said.

On December 8, CFIB wrote to the federal government to describe areas where businesses are still falling through the cracks, such as new businesses that don’t qualify and challenges that remain with the revenue criteria. , said Mr. Kwiecinski.

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