Federal government extends pandemic relief for businesses

interior of BC Ferries waiting room
Image: Shutterstock.

Even as the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter, business is still struggling to survive during the last gasps of the pandemic.  In response, on July 30, 2021, the Government of Canada announced the extension of crucial COVID-19 support measures for Canadians and Canadian businesses “in recognition that uneven economic reopening across regions and sectors means workers and businesses continue to need support.”

They will:

  • Extend the eligibility period for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support until October 23, 2021, and increase the rate of support employers and organizations can receive during the period between August 29 and September 25, 2021.
  • Extend the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) until October 23, 2021.
  • Increase the maximum number of weeks available for the CRB, by an additional 4 weeks, to a total of 54 weeks, at a rate of $300 per week, making it available to  those who have exhausted their employment insurance (EI) benefits.

In addition, according to their media release, the  Canadian government “is proposing to offer businesses greater flexibility when calculating the revenue decline used to determine eligibility for the wage and rent subsidy programs and the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program.” They are also releasing draft legislation to provide further clarity on previously announced changes to the wage subsidy for furloughed employees.

Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance says “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 reopening but many small businesses and workers are still getting back to business. Extending these supports—which have been lifelines for many—is needed. This is of particular importance for those workers and businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and are still reopening and rebuilding. Our government will continue to be there for Canadians and make sure that all workers and businesses are well positioned to come roaring back.”– 

More details on the extension and these proposed changes to COVID business supports are available here.

Quick facts

  • Since September 2020, there have been over 1 million CRB applications per two-week period, with the program paying out over $23 billion in income support to Canadians during the pandemic.
  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy has helped more than 5.3 million Canadians keep their jobs, with over $87 billion in support already paid out through the program to help employers re-hire employees and avoid layoffs.
  • The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support have helped more than 200,000 organizations with over $5.2 billion in support for rent, mortgage, and other expenses.
  • The wage subsidy, rent subsidy and Lockdown Support were set to expire in June 2021. To help see Canadian employees and employers through to recovery, Budget 2021 extended these measures to September 25, 2021, and it will now be extended to October 23, 2021.
  • Budget 2021 also introduced the Canada Recovery Hiring Program to help hard-hit businesses hire the workers they need to recover and grow, with a subsidy of up to 50 per cent of additional eligible salary or wages. Support is available from June 6 to November 20, 2021.

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