CALGARY -- Nadia Ansari feels fortunate that her dog training and grooming business in Calgary is still able to operate, but she says it wouldn’t have been possible without her commercial landlord cancelling April’s rent. 

“It saved my employees’ jobs and basically my business,” she said.

“I have laid off one staff member, but I have my other two staff still on with me. I probably would have had to shut down.”

Ansari owns the Brilliant Best Friends dog grooming shop on 14th Street N.W. They no longer let people inside when dropping off their dogs, but are still able to operate. Still, Ansari says, business has dropped off significantly amid the pandemic.

The business will only have to pay utilities and property taxes for the month of April, saving Ansari thousands of dollars. 

“Basically what I thought is that we all do something to help in this situation,” said Guy Gelineau, president of the company that handles commercial tenants in the building Ansari occupies.

“So I thought I’d give them a month’s free rent to give them the opportunity to make their applications [for government relief funding].”

Not all businesses are so fortunate.

According to a survey released this week by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, one-quarter of small business owners said they wouldn’t be able to pay April’s rent due to the effects of COVID-19. 

Around 42 per cent of Canadian small business owners are worried about having to shut down permanently, the survey found.

There are five commercial tenants in the building Ansari occupies — the dog groomers, a restaurant, hair salon, nail boutique and an acupuncture health centre. All of the businesses, except for Brilliant Best Friends, have shut down due to government restrictions in response to COVID-19. 

“He didn’t have to do this. There’s a lot of landlords that aren’t doing much or are negotiating only a small decrease,” said Ansari.

Gelineau says it’s too early to know yet if he’ll be able to offer the relief to his renters again in May