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Federal government extends and expands supports for business and workers

Due to the virulence of the Omicron variant, Public health has imposed new restrictions nationwide that will hit employers and their employees hard. To help soften the blow, the federal government will expand and extend support programs.
COVID-19 Emergency | Hermes Rivera
COVID-19 Emergency | Hermes Rivera

The federal government intends to temporarily expand eligibility for support programs ensuring that workers and businesses get the help they need to sustain them through the latest public health restrictions to slow the spread of the virulent Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Using regulatory authority provided in Bill C-2, the government intends to introduce new regulations that would:

  • Expand the Local Lockdown Program to include employers subject to capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more; and reduce the current-month revenue decline threshold requirement to 25 per cent. Eligible employers will 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 test continues to not be required in order to access this support.
  • Expand the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit to include workers in regions where provincial or territorial governments have introduced capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more. As announced previously, this benefit will provide $300 a week in income support to eligible workers who are directly affected by a COVID-19-related public health lockdown, and who have lost 50 per cent or more of their income as a result.

These updated regulations will apply from Dec. 19, 2021, to Feb. 12, 2022, during which time it is expected that public health authorities will continue to implement Omicron variant "circuit-breaker" restrictions.

More details on the expansion of these support measures are available in the backgrounder associated with today’s announcement.

Quick facts

Today’s expansion of support programs is expected to cost about $4 billion and will be fully covered by the $4.5 billion Omicron provision announced in the recent Economic and Fiscal Update 2021. This is in addition to the initial cost estimate of $7.4 billion when the programs were announced in October 2021. 

The Local Lockdown Program was introduced in October and became law on December 17, 2021. The proposed regulatory changes announced today would temporarily expand the initial eligibility requirement that organizations be subject to a lockdown.

The program provides businesses that face new local lockdowns with up to the maximum amount of support available through the wage and rent subsidy programs. The Local Lockdown Program is available from Oct. 24, 2021, to May 7, 2022. 

The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit was introduced in October 2021 and became law on December 17, 2021. The proposed regulatory changes announced today would temporarily expand the definition of a public health lockdown order to also include provincial orders involving capacity restrictions of 50% or more.

The benefit provides income support of $300 per week to workers whose employment is interrupted as a result of a specific government-imposed public health lockdown and who are unable to work due to such restrictions. The benefit is available from Oct. 24, 2021, to May 7, 2022

The government has recently implemented other new measures to ensure workers and businesses have the urgent help they need. This includes:

  • Extending the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit until May 7, 2022, and increasing the maximum duration of benefits by 2 weeks. This extends the caregiving benefit from 42 to 44 weeks and the sickness benefit from 4 to 6 weeks. People can now apply retroactively to periods between Nov. 21, 2021 and Dec.11, 2021.
  • Launching the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, providing support through wage and rent subsidies to, for example, hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, and restaurants, with a subsidy rate of up to 75 per cent. The eligible types of businesses are detailed in the legislation and a related backgrounder.
  • Launching the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program, providing support through wage and rent subsidies to other businesses that have faced deep losses, with a subsidy rate of up to 50 per cent.
  • Extending the Canada Recovery Hiring Program until May 7, 2022, for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10 per cent and increasing the subsidy rate to 50 per cent. This extension will help businesses continue to hire back workers, increase hours, and create the additional jobs Canada needs for a robust recovery.