TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford is indicating he won’t be putting a freeze on commercial evictions, but is pleading with landlords to “have a heart.”

Ontario has effectively banned residential evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many business groups and opposition parties have been calling on the province to do the same for commercial tenants.

The calls have been growing louder as Saturday approaches — the day when landlords could change the locks on businesses for non-payment of May’s rent.

But Ford says there could be legal implications if the government wades into long-term lease contracts.

He says he is pleading with landlords to be flexible, and notes that under a federal-provincial rent relief program, landlords would still get 75 per cent of the rent, as opposed to zero if they just lock out a tenant.

Ford says “vicious landlords” drive him crazy and that property owners should support their commercial tenants at this time.

Meanwhile, Ontario is reporting 341 new COVID-19 cases today and 27 more deaths.

The province also says that due to a glitch, Thursday’s numbers were under-reported, so there were actually 345 new cases that day, instead of the reported 258.

The new total of cases in the province is 21,922, including 1,825 deaths and 16,641 cases that have been resolved.

The adjusted numbers mean that the growth rate of new cases has been a steady 1.6 per cent over the past three days.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says Ontario’s new daily cases are still on a downward trend.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 dropped sharply, from 1,026 to 986, and the amount of people in intensive care and on ventilators decreased too.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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