OTTAWA — Last week, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced the extension of COVID-19 support measures for individuals and businesses.
The eligibility period for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and Lockdown Support is extended until Oct. 23, 2021. In addition, the rate of support employers and organizations can receive during the period between Aug. 29 and Sept. 25, 2021 increased.
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) have also been extended until Oct. 23, 2021.
And for those who have exhausted their employment insurance (EI) benefits, the maximum number of weeks available for CRB increased by an additional four weeks, bringing the total to 54 weeks at a rate of $300 per week.
Moreover, the government is contemplating offering considerable flexibility when calculating the revenue decline used to determine eligibility for the subsidy programs and the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program.
“Throughout the pandemic, our government has been committed to doing whatever it takes to support Canadians and Canadian businesses. Our economies are safely and gradually re-opening but many small businesses and workers are still getting back to business. Extending these supports — which have been lifelines for many — is needed,” says Freeland. “This is of particular importance for those workers and businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and are still re-opening and re-building. Our government will continue to be there for Canadians and make sure that all workers and businesses are well positioned to come roaring back.”
“While there are positive signs of economic recovery throughout the country, it has not been equal. We recognize that certain sectors are slower to recover from the impact of COVID-19,” says Qualtrough. “By providing additional weeks for the Canada Recovery Benefit and extending the eligibility period for all three recovery benefits, we’re ensuring that no one is left behind as the economy re-opens. We remain firm in our commitment to support Canadians who need it the most.”
However, while this announcement is welcome news, individuals and businesses in hard-hit sectors, including tourism, hospitality, arts and entertainment continue to press government for targeted support.
“This is a very positive step and the government deserves credit for listening to our sector. However, we know that this will not be enough to keep thousands of businesses from closing their doors permanently and losing important tourism infrastructure,” says Beth Potter, president and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). “The tourism and travel industries were the first hit in the pandemic and the hardest hit, and we will be the last to recover. Without business survival programming that targets our sectors, many businesses will not survive.”
“This is good news, as we have been calling for an extension of these critical support programs,” says Susie Grynol, president and CEO, Hotel Association of Canada (HAC). “While we welcome today’s announcements — which undoubtedly correspond with speculated election timing — and are happy to see the extension and rate freeze of these supports, this will not be enough to ensure the survival of the industry come the fall and winter. After 18 months of unprecedented losses in the industry, we will need a tailored solution for the hardest hit.
“This announcement comes after extensive lobbying from Restaurants Canada, most notably through our Restaurants Revival Working Group,” says Olivier Bourbeau, vice-president, Restaurants Canada. “This announcement represents an important first step towards securing a sustainable recovery for the foodservice industry,” says Bourbeau. “Restaurants Canada continues to work with the government on several fronts to make sure we get the maximum support in every possible way.”