Businesses in British Columbia eligible for rent support from the federal government will be protected from evictions.

This comes as the B.C. government issues a new order under the Emergency Program Act (EPA).

“The federal launch of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program has been a welcome step in B.C., but 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,” said finance minister, Carole James.

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

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

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

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 of this year.

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.

This latest measure also aims to put B.C. businesses in a stronger position to participate in the province’s restart and recovery plan.