By Staff The Canadian Press

Posted May 27, 2020 10:22 am

Updated May 27, 2020 10:24 am

0:58Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says applications open now for rent relief

Speaking to reporters outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Monday morning, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau asked all commercial landlords who are eligible to apply for rent relief from the federal government, with applications open as of 8:00 am that morning.

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.