The Ontario government has passed a temporary ban on the eviction of commercial tenants.
The Protecting Small Business Act also reverses evictions and prevents tenants' assets from being seized during COVID-19.
The Progressive Conservative legislation, passed on June 17, is retroactive to May 1 and runs until Aug. 31.
"We know COVID-19 has had a significant impact on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy," said Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark.
"This legislation will allow us to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet so they can continue to create jobs and participate in the rebuilding of the provincial economy."
The ban on evictions does not apply to those participating in a federal-provincial relief program, the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), for small businesses.
The program requires landlords to enter into a rent reduction agreement with their tenants and commits them to a moratorium on evictions for three months.
The New Democrats call the CECRA program "deeply flawed" and want to see all businesses qualify, not just the ones involved in the rent relief program, whose landlords won't participate.
They argue small and medium-sized businesses should be protected from eviction dating back to the beginning of the pandemic outbreak in Ontario.
“After dragging his feet for months, (Premier Doug) Ford also refuses to extend these protections back to the beginning of the pandemic, which excludes even more businesses, and may just encourage bad actors to backdate eviction notices,” said Economic Growth and Job Creation Critic Catherine Fife.
CECRA provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords for the months of April, May, and June 2020.
Small business landlords would be asked to forgive at least 25 per cent of the tenant's total rent, tenants would be asked to pay up to 25 per cent of rent and the provincial and federal governments would share the cost of the remaining 50 per cent. The application deadline is Aug 31.