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Ottawa replacing wage, rent subsidies for businesses with $7.4b in ‘targeted measures’

Broader subsidy programs still set to expire this week
A storefront sits empty on Granville Street in Vancouver in 2019 | Dan Touglet, Vancouver Courier

Wage and rent subsidies for businesses due to expire this week will be replaced with what the deputy prime minister is describing as “targeted measures.”

Chrystia Freeland announced Thursday the new initiatives will go into effect October 25 through to May 7 at a cost of $7.4 billion.

Rather than broader support programs all businesses could apply for, the revised measures will target tourism and hospitality requiring aid in rent and wages.

“They are still facing restrictions linked to public health and travel,” Freeland said.

Those who have suffered revenue losses of 40% or more will receive a subsidy rate starting at 40%, while the rate will increase according to the function of loss of revenue up to 75%.

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will transition to subsidy rates of 10% for applicants with 50% revenue losses, increasing to a maximum 50% subsidy for those with 75% in revenue losses.

Eligibility will be tied to two keys: revenue loss over the course of 12 months during the pandemic and revenue loss in the current month.

After March 13, the programs will decrease their aid by half.

Freeland said the current subsidies need to be “more narrow, more targeted and less expensive.”

But she cautioned temporary local lockdowns are still a possibility in the months to come.

In those instances, wage and rent subsidies will be made available up to the maximum amount throughout the duration of the lockdown.

Freeland said a new Canada Lockdown Worker Benefit (CLWB) will offer $300 a week to employees subject to the lockdown, including those not eligible for employment insurance. To compare, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) offered $2,000 a month to Canadians compared with the $1,200 that might be collected by a CLWB recipient over four weeks.

Meanwhile, the Canada Sickness Benefit and the Canada Caregiving Benefit, which were due to expire this week, are being extended to May 7, 2022. Maximum eligibility for those two programs is also being extended two weeks.

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