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With the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program which covered the period of April to September 2020 now closed, the federal government introduced a replacement wage subsidy program on November 2, 2020 called the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS).

This program is intended to provide continued support to business to cover their commercial rental costs and other similar costs for the period of September 27, 2020 to September 2021 (exact end date is not yet known).

Your business may be able to benefit from CERS if any of the following scenario’s applies:

  • Your business pays rent for a commercial property (including buildings and/or land);
  • Your business pays expenses related to a commercial property under a net lease agreement (including base rent, property taxes, or other related operating expenses); or,
  • Your business owns a commercial property and pays related costs of ownership (including property taxes, property insurance, and commercial mortgage interest).

Additional detailed rules and criteria for claiming the CERS are summarized as follows:


Qualifying for the Subsidy

In order to qualify to claim CERS, you must meet all four of the following criteria:

  • You meet at least one of the following conditions:
    • You had a CRA business number on September 27, 2020; or,
    • You had a payroll account on March 15, 2020, or another person or partnership made payroll remittances on your behalf; or,
    • You purchased the business assets of another person or partnership who meets condition (b) above, and have made an election under the special asset acquisition rules
      (These special asset acquisition rules are the same for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)); or,
    • You meet other prescribed conditions that might be introduced at a later date (Note – there are no prescribed conditions at this time).
  • You are an eligible business, charity, or non-profit organization (eligible entity). Eligible entities include individuals (other than a trust), corporations (or trusts) that are not exempt from income tax, certain non-profit organizations and similar organizations exempt from income tax, registered charities, and partnerships consisting of eligible entities. Public institutions such as municipalities, local governments, and Crown corporations, are not eligible for the subsidy.
  • You have experienced a drop in revenue. Your drop in revenue is calculated by comparing your eligible revenue during the reference period with your eligible revenue from a previous period (baseline revenue). There is no minimum revenue drop required to qualify for the subsidy. The rate your revenue has dropped is only used to calculate how much subsidy you receive for these periods. The revenue reduction calculation is completed using similar criteria to the revenue reduction calculation for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) (see “Calculating the Subsidy” below). Applicants who are claiming both CERS and CEWS subsidies must use the same elections and methods for calculating the revenue drop under each program.
  • You must have eligible expenses. The CERS covers a portion of eligible expenses in respect of a claim period for each qualifying property, subject to certain maximums. The CERS is calculated on a property by property basis.

A “qualifying property” includes any "real or immovable property" (buildings or land) in Canada that your business or organization:

  • owns or rents; and,
  • uses in the course of your ordinary business activities.

Properties that do not qualify, include:

  • your home, cottage, or other residence used by you, your family members, or other non-arm’s-length persons; or,
  • any properties you own that are primarily used to earn rental income from arm’s-length parties.

For each claim period, you can claim eligible expenses up to a maximum of $75,000 per business location (base and top-up), and $300,000 in total for all locations (applies to the base subsidy only and includes any amounts claimed by affiliated businesses).

Expenses must meet the following criteria in order to be considered “eligible expenses”:

  • Only amounts paid or payable to an arm’s-length party can be included
  • The expense must be in respect of the claim period
  • The expense must be paid or payable under a written agreement in place before October 9, 2020 (or a renewal on substantially similar terms or assignment of such an agreement)

Specific categories of eligible expenses for renters can include:

  • Rent (including rent based on a percentage of sales, profit or similar criteria)
  • Amounts required to be paid or payable by you under a net lease (including base rent, regular payments for operating expenses, property taxes, or regular payments to the lessor for customary ancillary services).

Specific categories of eligible expenses for property owners can include:

  • Property and similar taxes
  • Property insurance
  • Interest on commercial mortgages (mortgage amount cannot exceed the lesser of the lowest principal amount secured by one or more mortgages on the property at any time it was acquired or the cost amount of the property).

You cannot include amounts paid or payable for the following:

  • Sales tax (such as GST or provincial sales taxes)
  • Damages
  • Interest or penalties on unpaid amounts
  • Other special amounts

NOTE - If you earned any revenue from sub-leasing space on the property to arm’s-length parties, you must subtract that revenue from your eligible expenses.


Calculating the Subsidy

 The base subsidy rate applies to a maximum of $75,000 in eligible expenses per location and an overall maximum of $300,000 in expenses for you and any affiliated entities per claim period.

If you must close or cease certain activities at one or more of your locations under a public health order for one week or longer, you may be eligible for lockdown support of up to 25% of eligible expenses per affected location for the days the order was in place (prorated for number of days in lockdown out of the total number of days in the claim period).

The amount you can claim of your expenses (your rent subsidy rate) is based on the revenue drop you experienced between

  • Corresponding month of 2019 method:the months of 2019 and 2020 that relate to the claim period you're applying for
  • Alternative method: January and February 2020 compared to the months of 2020 that relate to the claim period

Table 1 below provides a summary of the applicable CERS subsidy rates for all claim periods up to June 5, 2021.

Table 1


Revenue Decline

Base subsidy rate

Lockdown Support

70% and over



50% to 69%

40% + (revenue drop - 50%) x 1.25
(e.g., 40% + (60% revenue drop – 50%) x 1.25 = 52.5% subsidy rate)


1% to 49%

Revenue drop x 0.8
(e.g., 25% revenue drop x 0.8 = 20% subsidy rate)



Applying for the Subsidy

The current eligible CERS subsidy periods are as follows:

  • Period 1: September 27 to October 24, 2020
  • Period 2: October 25 to November 21, 2020
  • Period 3: November 22 to December 19, 2020
  • Period 4: December 20, 2020 to January 16, 2021
  • Period 5: January 17 to February 13, 2021
  • Period 6: February 14 to March 13, 2021
  • Period 7: March 14 to April 10, 2021
  • Period 8: April 11 to May 8, 2021
  • Period 9: May 9 to June 5, 2021

Additional subsidy periods have been announced and will be made available at a later date. You must submit a separate application for each claim period you are eligible for. The deadline to submit an application for each period is no later than 180 days after the end of the claim period.

Applicants must create a CRA (ZA) business account number with CRA before they can apply. Once this is done, applications can be filed either through your businesses CRA “My Business” account, or by your representative through CRA “Represent a Client”.

For more information on the CERS program, visit the dedicated CRA webpage.

If you have any questions regarding the CERS program, or would like assistance applying for your business, contact Gregory Harriman & Associates LLP by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 1-403-934-3176.



The information in this publication is current as of May 28, 2021.

This publication has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms and should be seen as broad guidance only. The publication cannot be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act, or refrain from acting, upon the information contained therein without obtaining specific professional advice. Please contact Gregory, Harriman & Associates LLP to discuss these matters in the context of your particular circumstances. Gregory, Harriman & Associates LLP, its partners, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone in reliance on the information in this publication or for any decision based on it.