Senator Cordy: I’ll be sharing my time with Senator Bernard, chair.
Minister, welcome to the Senate of Canada. I understand that the CRA will be administering the rent subsidy program along with administering the wage relief program. I think that’s the right decision to be made.
But, minister, has the department received additional resources from the government, because it is a huge job to administer both of these programs in a timely manner? If so, could you let us know what kinds of timely resources have been provided so that the programs can be administered on time?
Ms. Freeland: Thank you very much, senator. That’s an excellent question. I’m not going to go into the specific details, but I am very aware that the CRA is doing a monumental job right now supporting all of Canada. I am very grateful to the CRA, and our officials are right now in discussion with the CRA to ensure that the CRA has all the necessary resources to do this important work.
They are doing a heck of a job, and you’re absolutely right to point to the fact that we all need to be assured they have the resources, both human and in terms of technical platforms to do that work.
Senator Cordy: Thank you. My second question has to do with the response to the previous rent subsidy program. It required landlord participation and, at that time, I understand that landlords were hesitant to participate. I wonder if you could let us know why this was and whether those concerns have been dealt with in this particular piece of legislation.
Ms. Freeland: With the previous program, CECRA, it’s important for us to note that nearly 140,000 small businesses that employed 1.2 million people did benefit from CECRA, so that provided some real support to businesses and to their workers.
The new program goes directly to tenants, so it doesn’t require landlord participation. It may be worth emphasizing that, under this new program, mortgage interest payments will also be an eligible expense for businesses. If you have bought your property and are paying a mortgage on it, you can claim for the interest as well.
Senator Cordy: Thank you.
The Chair: Senator Cordy, do you have any other questions?
Senator Cordy: Senator Bernard has the rest of my time.