Alberta survey to ask businesses, commercial landlords about COVID-19 challenges

The Alberta government is urging commercial landlords and tenants in the province to fill out a survey on its website to get a better sense of challenges businesses are facing in meeting their “financial obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a news release issued Monday, the government said such challenges could include paying rent or developing payment schedules.

“We expect businesses and landlords to work together in a respectful and fair manner during this challenging time,” said Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Minister Tanya Fir.

“We strongly encourage landlords to participate in the CECRA (Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance) program and to be flexible and understanding of their tenants’ financial circumstances.

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“We are asking businesses to pay their rent as fully and consistently as possible, if they can. This isn’t an easy time for anyone, but by working together, we will get through these tough times.”

The CECRA program, which is administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, began accepting applications on Monday.

The government said it hopes survey responses will help it gauge whether people and businesses have been able to access supports that are already available and then help inform whether more measures are needed to help businesses pay rent during the pandemic.

The leader of the Official Opposition issued a statement on Monday afternoon, saying she believes businesses need more support right away.

“Rent is due in seven days,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “These businesses need real support — not a survey.

“Our caucus started hearing from businesses over two months ago, they don’t need to wait another two months while (Premier) Jason Kenney asks questions he should already know the answer to.”

According to the provincial government, Alberta businesses paid an average monthly rent of almost $650 million in 2016.

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