Federal government to spend $ 7.4 billion on new COVID-19 benefits


OTTAWA – The federal government has announced a series of changes to popular income and business support programs put in place during the pandemic that will expire on Saturday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland reminded Canadians on Thursday that the measures were still meant to be “temporary.”

“We are moving from the very broad support that was appropriate during the height of our lockdown to more targeted measures that will deliver aid where it is needed while prudently managing public finances,” she said.

The changes come with a price tag of $ 7.4 billion.

The Canadian Restoration Benefit (CRP) will be replaced by the Canadian Containment Benefit for workers for those whose work is directly affected by the containment measures imposed by the government.

The program will be available until May 7, 2022, retroactive to October 24, and will provide $ 300 per week to eligible workers.

“Temporary closures are still possible in the coming months. We want Canadians to know that we now intend to put in place measures that will take action immediately, ”said Freeland.

As of October 10, the government had paid out $ 27 billion to more than two million unique CRB applicants.

Freeland also announced the implementation of two new programs to help hard-hit sectors, replacing wage and rental subsidies.

The tourism and hospitality recovery program and the hardest hit businesses recovery program will also be available until May 7, 2022.

The first, which would apply to operations such as hotels, restaurants, bars, festivals and travel agencies, requires applicants to show an average monthly revenue loss of at least 40 percent for the first 13 reference periods of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CUSS) and a loss of income of the same amount in the current month.

Until mid-March 2022, the subsidy rate would reflect the drop in income, up to 75%, and then halve until the program expires.

The latter program applies to those who do not fall within the scope of tourism and hospitality but still face significant financial obstacles caused by the pandemic.

Eligible businesses are expected to experience an average monthly loss of revenue of at least 50 percent during the first 13 SSUC eligibility periods and a loss of revenue of the same amount during the current month.

The maximum subsidy rate would be set at 50 percent until mid-March, then halved thereafter.

The government will also extend Canada’s Hiring Stimulus Program, for businesses that may experience a revenue loss of more than 10%, until May 7, 2022 at a 50% subsidy rate paid to eligible employees.

The Canadian Sickness Recovery Benefit and the Canadian Caregiver Recovery Benefit will remain in place until the same date and will be extended by two weeks, increasing sickness benefits from four to six weeks and family caregiver benefits. caregivers from 42 to 44 weeks.

The government is able to extend these benefits until November 20, 2021 through regulatory powers, but it will demand legislation to extend them until their new expiration date.

Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, told CTV News Channel on Thursday that while the extended benefits are a relief, the government has set the bar high for support.

“To put us in a situation where we now have businesses that are not going to meet the thresholds to access media and still have to endure significant COVID restrictions limiting their sales, that means the burden of that is placed on the shoulders of little businessman, ”he said.

“I am concerned that the changes will further force them to make the very difficult decision to close their doors forever.”

Mark Agnew, senior vice president of policy and government relations at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said the revamped business support programs will allow businesses that continue to be affected by public health restrictions to survive until so that they can recover.

“It’s the right thing to do for companies playing their part to protect public health,” Agnew said in a statement.

Reacting to the end of the CRB, Tory MP Ed Fast attributed the announcement to pressure from Chief Erin O’Toole on the Prime Minister to phase him out.

Yesterday, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said he would not support extending CRB benefits beyond November 20, citing skyrocketing inflation and labor shortages in courses across the country. The Prime Minister has followed Mr. O’Toole’s tax plan, ”Fast said in a statement to CTVNews.ca.

NDP MP Daniel Blaikie warned that implementing these changes will not happen overnight and that more advanced notice of the government’s plans would have been helpful.

“No one has seen the legislation. These are all things that take time, there are negotiations around these things. If you watch any of the series of shows passed in the last Parliament that we are talking about, there has always been negotiations on the terms and conditions, ”he told CTV News’ Power Play. Channel.

Parliament is expected to meet again on November 22 and will only sit for three weeks before rising again for recess.

Correction:

This story has been updated to correct the number of unique CRB applicants.


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