Government extends pandemic recovery programs and business supports

The government announced today an extension of a number of pandemic support programs, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Recovery Benefit.

Programs such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Recovery Benefit will run to Oct. 23

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the government will be extending a number of economic support programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Mikael Mayer/Radio-Canada)

The federal government announced extensions of a number of pandemic economic support programs today, including the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

A news release from the Department of Finance says the eligibility period for CRB and CEWS has been extended to Oct. 23. The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will also receive the same extension.

The department also announced that the amount of support available to employers under both the CEWS and CERS programs will be increased for the period of Aug. 29 to Sept. 25.

In the news release, the government says it is extending the programs "in recognition that uneven economic reopening across regions and sectors means workers and businesses continue to need support."

CRB, which largely replaced the earlier Canada Economic Recovery Benefit, is designed to provide income support to those who are not covered by Employment Insurance (EI). It can pay out between $300 to $500 per week to recipients, depending on when they applied.

The number of weeks claimants can receive the CRB is also getting a boost, to 54 weeks from the previous 50.

Through CEWS, the government partially covers employee wages for businesses that have lost revenue during the pandemic.

"Extending these supports — which have been lifelines for many — is needed," Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in the release. "This is of particular importance for those workers and businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and are still reopening and rebuilding."

Business associations pleased with extensions

The extensions will come as a relief to businesses struggling with capacity limits and other public health restrictions, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said today.

"With only 35 per cent of businesses back to making normal levels of sales, any additional runway on these crucial federal support programs is welcome news," Dan Kelly, CFIB president and CEO, said in a news release.

Kelly did say he's concerned about a lack of access to business support programs for new ventures. He also said benefit programs like CRB could hurt businesses looking to hire.

"With a growing shortage of skilled workers in many sectors, CFIB cautions the government to ensure CRB or any other Employment Insurance measures do not disincentivize people from returning to work by ensuring part-time worker benefits are not higher than they earned pre-pandemic," he said.

Beth Potter, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, called the extensions of CEWS and CERS a "positive step in supporting the tourism industry."

"However, we know that this will not be enough to keep thousands of businesses from closing their doors permanently and losing important tourism infrastructure," she said in a media statement. "Without business survival programming that targets our sector, many tourism business will not survive."

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