|The Honourable Naveep Bains, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5
|The Honourable Mary Ng, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Avenue
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
June 10, 2020
Dear Ministers Bains and Ng:
On behalf of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and our 80,000 REALTOR® Members, we appreciate the steps taken by your Government to mitigate COVID’s impact on the Canadian economy in a responsible manner. Our Members are grateful for the various measures and support that you have extended to independent contractors and small business owners who have been hit hard by the pandemic. We were particularly pleased to see your Government respond to concerns that were raised by OREA and others and make changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The added flexibility that you have provided will allow more REALTORS® to benefit from this program when it is most needed.
While we are grateful for the support, many REALTORS®, brokers and real estate team leaders are unable to access the programs meant for all Canadians who qualify. Specifically, the eligibility requirements for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) unfairly disqualify many of our Members from accessing the programs. We do not believe this disqualification was intentional and were encouraged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent announcement of a review of CEBA’s personal account restriction, but I do want to share the experiences that OREA is hearing from our Members.
Many of our Members have turned to the CEBA for assistance as a result of COVID. Unfortunately, the majority are being turned away by their financial institution because they do not have an existing business account. As you may know, the existing regulatory framework in Ontario does not allow Ontario REALTORS® to incorporate, meaning that the overwhelming majority of real estate professionals use personal accounts as opposed to business accounts. As the CEBA is currently only available to those using business accounts Ontario REALTORS® are disqualified from taking advantage of this program. This
is predominately impacting our Members who employ Executive Assistants and support staff in their offices.
Without being eligible for CEBA, and with no new revenue being generated, our Members are being put in a difficult position creating an increased risk that despite their best intentions, real estate businesses will be forced to lay staff off. We are calling on the Federal Government to amend the criteria for the CEBA. Any business that can provide proof of employment and meet the necessary payroll criteria should be able to access the program regardless of whether they use a business or a personal bank account.
We are committed to working with you and your team to ensure that our Members are considered as decisions on these programs are made. If you, or your staff, have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Thornton, OREA’s Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications at 416-385-6624 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CEO, Ontario Real Estate Association