COVID-19 rent aid for businesses, landlords to cost $520 million, PBO says

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OTTAWA — Parliament’s spending watchdog estimates a federal program aimed at giving small businesses a break on their rent could cost the public purse $520 million this fiscal year.

Budget officer Yves Giroux’s report this morning puts caveats on that estimate, owing in particular to the lack of clear precedent for this kind of program.

His report says that means the assumptions about industry eligibility and uptake by landlords “rely heavily on judgment.”

The program offers forgivable loans to cover half monthly rents in April, May and June, as long as landlords drop rents by at least 75 per cent over the same period for eligible small businesses.

Property owners with up to 10 eligible tenants were able to apply Monday and Tuesday,

All other landlords can apply over the remainder of the week.