Feds extend lockdown supports

Enhanced versions to extend until March 12

Feds extend lockdown supports

Canadian workers and businesses where provincial and territorial public health restrictions remain in place will continue to benefit from federal government supports.

Ottawa has announced it will extend the enhanced version of Local Lockdown Program and Worker Lockdown Benefit until March 12, 2022. The federal government expanded eligibility for key support programs in December 2021 a month after it introduced Bill C-2.

“We are beginning to see public health measures easing in some parts of the country, but this pandemic still remains uncertain. That’s why we’re extending the temporary expanded lockdown definition for the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit [CWLB],” says Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion.

“We’ve seen just how vital these supports have been to Canadians so far, and we have to ensure they’re available in the event that regional lockdowns continue.”

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomed the extension.

“This measure allows any business facing a 50 per cent capacity restriction to access wage support at the same level as those fully locked down, reduces the revenue loss threshold to 25 per cent over the past month and provides a higher level of rent subsidy,” says Dan Kelly, president of CFIB.

Under the Local Lockdown Program, eligibility would continue to include employers subject to capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more and those who experienced a 25-per-cent decline in the current-month revenue. Eligible employers would receive wage and rent subsidies from 25 per cent up to a maximum of 75 per cent, depending on their degree of revenue loss.

The 12-month revenue decline criterion does not apply to this program.

Meanwhile, eligibility under the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit would continue to include workers in regions where capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more are in place.

Eligible workers will get $300 a week in income support, including those who are either unable to work or have lost 50 per cent or more of their income as a result.

The extension of both programs is expected to be fully covered by the $4.5 billion Omicron provision announced in the recent 2021 Economic and Fiscal Update, according to the government.

Slipping ‘through the cracks’

While the extension of the programs is a “positive move,” CFIB is still encouraging the federal government to expand the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) to include businesses who depend on tourism, hospitality or events. The federal government introduced the THRP in December 2021.

“Some businesses continue to slip through the cracks of existing federal supports. Many businesses who are impacted by ongoing restrictions in the events, tourism and hospitality industries have not been able to qualify for the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program.”

While some employers have called on the federal government to extend and expand support programs, more than three in 10 (31 per cent) of Canadians want pandemic aid from the government to end completely, according to a report released in November 2021.

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