Many businesses have been negatively impacted due to the latest round of lockdowns and capacity restrictions imposed by various levels of government across Canada.
We have been contacted by our clients and businesses wanting to know if they qualify for the newly announced government programs and how they should apply for these programs.
Business Support from Federal Government
Wage and Hiring Support
As an employer in Canada who has seen a decline in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of the wages you pay employees.
For each applicable claim period, eligible employers can claim one of the following (whichever gives the highest amount):
- Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) – Wage (Effective: October 24, 2021, to May 7, 2022)
- Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) – Wage (Effective: October 24, 2021, to May 7, 2022)
- Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) (Effective: June 6, 2021, to May 7, 2022)
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) (Effective: March 15, 2020, to October 23, 2021)
Rent and property expense support for businesses
As a business, non-profit organization, or charity in Canada who has seen a drop in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your commercial rent or property expenses. Depending on the period you are applying for, you may be eligible to claim your commercial rent or property expenses through one of the following:
- Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) – Rent (Effective: October 24, 2021, to May 7, 2022)
- Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) – Rent (Effective: October 24, 2021, to May 7, 2022)
- Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) (Effective: September 27, 2020, to October 23, 2021)
Federal Local Lockdown Program (expanded eligibility)
- Provides wage and rent subsidy to businesses that face temporary new local lockdowns.
- The definition of “Lockdown” has been temporarily modified so that a business can now also qualify if:
- It is subject to a public health order that has the effect of reducing the entity's capacity at the location by 50% or more, and
- Its activities restricted by the public health order accounted for at least 50% of the entity's total revenues.
How much a should the revenue of a business decline to qualify for this program?
- The government has temporarily lowered the current-month revenue loss threshold from 40% to 25%.
- Employers would continue to need to demonstrate current-month losses only, without the requirement for a historical 12-month revenue decline.
How much subsidy will a business receive?
- The subsidy rate starts at 25% if your current-month revenue declined by 25%.
- The subsidy amount increases in proportion to current-month revenue loss up to a maximum rate of 75% for those with a monthly revenue decline of 75% or higher.
How long will the expanded eligibility continue?
- These temporary changes would be in effect for qualifying periods from December 19, 2021, to February 12, 2022 (Periods 24 and 25).
Support available for workers (employees & self-employed)
So, how about the workers whose employment is interrupted by government-imposed public health lockdowns and who are unable to work due to such restrictions?
Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (Expanded Eligibility)
The government has temporarily expanded the eligibility for this program (from December 19, 2021 to February 12, 2022) so that a worker whose employment is interrupted due to the following situations would qualify:
- Lockdown of place of work
- The definition of lockdown has been expanded to include government-imposed restrictions that involve capacity restrictions of 50% or more (from December 19, 2021 to February 12, 2022)
- the minimum number of days a lockdown order needs to be in place is 7 consecutive days, down from 14 consecutive days (from December 19, 2021 to February 12, 2022)
After February 12, the definition will revert to the original definition as set out in Bill C-2. Lock down period should be for at least 14 consecutive days. Furthermore, these would be for non-essential services – i.e. services that are not essential to preserving life, health, public safety, and basic societal functioning.
So, how much is the benefit?
The benefit would:
- Provide $300 a week ($270 after taxes withheld).
- Be available to workers whose work interruption is a result of a government-imposed public health lockdown.
- Be available to workers who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)
- Those who are eligible for EI, as long as they are not paid benefits through EI for the same period.
- Require workers to attest that they have lost 50% or more of their income as a result of COVID-19-related lockdowns during the applicable period.
Who can apply for Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit?
You can apply if a COVID-19 lockdown in your region resulted in one of the following:
- you lost your job and were unemployed
- you were self-employed but unable to continue your work
- you were employed or self-employed, but had a 50% reduction in your average weekly income as compared to the previous year
(Individual workers whose loss of income or employment is due to their refusal to adhere to a vaccine mandate are not eligible for this benefit.)
How to apply for Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit?
You can use this link to apply: Government of Canada (Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB))
The extensions and expansions announced to the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit remain in place. In October, the government announced that both of these benefits would be extended until May 7, 2022, and the maximum duration of benefits increased by 2 weeks. This extends the caregiving benefit from 42 to 44 weeks and the sickness benefit from 4 to 6 weeks. Individuals can now apply retroactively to periods between November 21, 2021 and December 11, 2021.
Support available from the Quebec Government
The government of Quebec has also annouced new measures to support the businesses that have been affected in the province.
Businesses subject to a closure order starting from December 20, 2021, to protect the health of the population in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic can again submit a financial assistance application under the Assistance for Businesses in Regions on Maximum Alert (AERAM) section of the Emergency Assistance Program for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (PAUPME)
Please consult this link for details: Quebec Emergency Assistance for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (COVID-19)
Useful links and resources: