Premier Doug Ford issued a stern warning Tuesday to commercial landlords who are refusing to work with small businesses struggling to stay afloat.
'Don’t force my hand," the premier said.
Speaking at Queen’s Park on Tuesday afternoon, Ford expressed frustration about reports that many landlords are refusing to participate in the federal government’s commercial rent relief program, which offers property owners 75 per cent of the rent they would regularly receive from their tenant.
“Don't force my hand. Work things out because I'm trying to compromise here. We are giving you 75 per cent of what you're asking for,” Ford said.
“Nothing drives me more crazy than greedy landlords taking advantage of people and small business owners that are just trying to keep their head above water.”
An alarming number of small businesses have reported that their landlords are not interested in participating in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program.
A recent survey of more than 500 small businesses in Toronto found that two-thirds of them may have to shut down for good within the next three months due to financial struggles.
While the premier has halted residential evictions during the pandemic, he has not yet agreed to put a stop to commercial evictions.
Ford urged landlords to “cooperate” with their tenants.
“It is not going to be forever. It is going to be for a few months,” the premier said Tuesday. “Help people out. You have an obligation to do that as a landlord.”
Ford said he will assess the situation further and will “see how the landlords react” when the federal government rolls out the rent relief program next week.
“I'm trying to be fair but don't push me. (If) these big landlords want to take advantage of small, little companies and people that are struggling, I'm going to come down on them like they have never seen before.”