Ontario Premier Doug Ford acted too quickly in implementing a temporary ban on commercial evictions, said the chief executive officer of one of the country’s largest landlords.
“I thought it was a little premature,” Ed Sonshine, CEO of RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman Wednesday.
“[Ford] shouldn’t interfere lightly with commercial contracts,” he said.
His comments come two days after Ford announced the ban, which halts evictions of businesses eligible for the federal government’s Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program until the end of August. CECRA, which began May 25, has yet to prove popular among landlords. The number of applications for the program has been well short of what Ottawa expected.
Sonshine noted CECRA recently launched and believes most landlords, including RioCan, intend on participating in the program.
“We’ve made it very clear right from the beginning of the program announcement that we intended to fully participate,” he said.
“Every significant or even medium-sized landlord that I’m aware of, is fully intending to participate in the CECRA program. And it really has only gone live in the last week or so.”
Sonshine said it can be difficult to determine which tenants would be eligible for the CECRA program or whether they would be protected from eviction under the province’s moratorium. He expects about 2,000 of RioCan’s tenants to qualify for the program, but is still waiting on paperwork before the company can confirm which tenants are eligible.
“No landlord is really in a position to know exactly who’s CECRA-eligible,” he said.
He said some criteria is easy to recognize, for example if the tenant’s rent is under $50,000. But others, like whether the tenant has lost as least 70 per cent of its revenue, can be difficult for landlords to know.
“If a salon, for example, is closed, then presumably they’ve lost [that revenue], there’s a presumption. But restaurants, we have no idea what kind of takeout or delivery revenue they’re doing. So again, we don’t know if they’re CECRA eligible.”