The Canadian federal government announced Wednesday it will extend multiple critical COVID-19 emergency benefits aimed at helping businesses during the pandemic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy Canada, as well as the Lockdown Support programs, will maintain their current rates until June 5, 2021.
“Times are hard,” he said. “We’re here to provide you with the support you will need to make it through this crisis, as long as it lasts.”
The extension means the maximum wage subsidy rate for employees still on payroll will remain at 75 per cent. For the rent subsidy program, the rate will remain at 65 per cent. The Lockdown Support program will remain at 15 per cent.
This will provide “hard-hit businesses with rent support of up to 90 per cent,” Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland added.
She said the trio of programs are being extended because the economy is still struggling even with encouraging signs of a recovery on the horizon.
“Even if we have seen encouraging signs of a recovery, including higher growth forecast in the fourth quarter of 2020, we are not yet at the end of it,” she said in French.
Ottawa has paid out more than $66 billion in wage subsidies and $1.6 billion in rent subsidies, according to official data.
Freeland said the cost of extending these programs were already set out in estimates published back in November.
“Our approach is very cautious,” she said. “We had already anticipated in the forecast that it might be necessary to do what we announced today.”
Extending the rent program to June will cost an additional $2.1 billion, Freeland said. For the wage subsidy program, the additional cost would come at an approximate $13.9 billion.
“I would add, these are programs that depend, in fact, on the situation Canadian businesses face. The level of assistance will depend on business revenues,” she continued in French.
“So we will spend less if the economy is stronger and we will spend more if the economy is weaker and if businesses need further assistance.”
— with a file from ReutersView link »