The province is taking action to protect small businesses from evictions.

This, after the B.C. government issued a new order under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) today.

It applies to businesses eligible for rent support from the federal government.

Finance minister Carole James said that while the federal launch of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program has been “a welcome step” in B.C., “we heard from small businesses that they need us to help fill a gap that has left some of them unable to get the support they need.”

“We’re listening to small businesses and have their backs,” she added. 

“Preventing landlords who are eligible for CECRA from evicting tenants can encourage landlords to apply for the program and give some temporary relief to businesses who have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” James said.

Eligible businesses whose landlords choose not to apply for the federal program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments through to the end of June 2020, as determined by the federal program timelines.

The EPA order restricts the termination of lease agreements and the repossession of goods and property.

The province says the CECRA program “provides relief” for small businesses experiencing severe financial hardship due to COVID-19. 

It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants and to meet operating expenses on commercial properties.

Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75 per cent rent reduction for the months of April, May and June 2020. The CECRA loans to landlords will be forgiven if the landlord complies with program terms and conditions, including an agreement to not recover forgiven rent amounts when the program is over.

The emergency order restricting evictions is effective immediately.

The province also says that “this latest measure also aims to put B.C. businesses in a stronger position to participate in the Province’s restart and recovery plan.”