Ottawa plans to lengthen the time that workers and businesses can receive pandemic support, but at lesser amounts. The relief programs’ extensions were part of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s recent budget announced April 19. The budget proposes to provide up to 12 additional weeks of the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) for workers who aren’t eligible for employment insurance. The extension of the CRB to September 25 would also stretch the maximum weeks someone could qualify for it to 50 weeks from 38 weeks. However, the latter eight of the additional 12 weeks will offer payments of $300 per week, instead of the current $500 (less tax withheld). The budget also proposes to keep some of the features of enhanced EI benefits launched last September, until the Fall of 2022.
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will be extended for an additional 4 weeks, to a maximum of 42 weeks. The budget also proposes to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) until September 25, with subsidy rates beginning to decrease slightly starting July 4. Another change proposed with the CEWS is that any publicly-listed corporation receiving support and found to be paying its top executive more in 2021 than in 2019, will need to repay the equivalent in wage subsidy amounts for any claim period starting after June 5 until the end of the program. Ottawa also plans to extend the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and its 25% top-up (called Lockdown Support) until September 25. As with the CEWS, the rate of the CERS is set to decline starting July 4 of 2021.
With some of its programs decreasing in support, the federal government also proposed a new program for businesses to hire laid-off and new workers, lasting from June 6 to November 30. The Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHR) would provide a subsidy to employers that continue to experience a drop in revenue relative to before COVID-19. The subsidies would offset some of the extra costs employers assume as they reopen, such as costs for hiring more staff, increasing wages or increasing hours worked. Employers can claim either the hiring subsidy or the CEWS – whichever provides the most funding.