A number of federal pandemic supports for individuals and businesses are expected to end this week. Most of them can be further extended in the short term without introducing new legislation.
Businesses and industry groups are keenly aware of the coming end of the pandemic, they say supports are still needed to keep the economy afloat, and they say they want the federal government to act now.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland told CBC The House in an interview broadcast on Saturday that the reopening of the Canadian economy is going well and that the country is in a different phase of the pandemic.
âI was very happy with the number of jobs last week, and it is true that we are reopening, so this is a different phase from the phase we were in when these programs were put in place. And we are working. now on what is appropriate for today’s conditions, âFreeland told host Chris Hall.
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She said she was consulting with economists, business and labor groups, her ministry and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the appropriate next steps, but she also noted that there remained significant uncertainty about the future.
âWe have to remember that all of us collectively around the world have been very bad at predicting exactly what course the coronavirus would take. So we also need to have a sufficiently flexible approach to be able to respond to unforeseen developments,â she said.
Five programs are scheduled to end on October 23. Three of them provide assistance to individuals, while the other two provide targeted assistance to businesses.
The Canada Emergency Rent Grant (SCRU) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (SSUC) both expire on Sunday, but can be extended by the federal cabinet until November 30. The extension of these programs beyond this date would require the introduction of new legislation.
Although both of these grants expire on October 23, the deadline for submitting an application for each application period is six months after the end of the application period itself. Companies can therefore claim wages paid during the last week of the program until April 21.
During the federal election campaign, the Liberals promised to provide the struggling tourism industry with wage and rental support “up to 75% of their spending to help them get through the winter.” The government has yet to make any announcement on these supports.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce want these extensions to apply to all businesses in Canada.
“Extending these programs until November must be an immediate priority, followed by legislation to introduce programs for the hardest hit sectors upon return from the House,” the House spokeswoman said. , Alla Drigola Birk, at CBC News. “Businesses need support and certainty now, not retroactive payment months away.”
Slow return to growth
The CFIB said a large number of small businesses are still struggling due to the fourth wave of the pandemic. He said only 76% of small businesses are fully open, only 45% are fully staffed, and only 49% generate normal income.
âNo business owner waits for government support forever, but they need to know that there is something they can count on until all restrictions are lifted and they can fully operate their business again. They can’t afford the government to drag it out until the last minute, “CFIB’s Corinne Pohlmann said in a press release last week.
The CFIB has said it wants the rent and wage subsidies extended until March 31, 2022. It also wants Canada’s Stimulus Hiring Program, which is due to expire on November 20, to be extended until March 31, 2022. ‘on the same date.
Meeting that demand would be difficult for the Liberal government, which announced on Friday that Parliament would not return until November 22 – two days after the hiring program ended.
Support for individuals
Three personal support programs also expire this week. The Canada Recovery Benefit (ECR), Canada Disease Recovery Benefit (CRSB), and Canada Caregiver Recovery Benefit (CRCB) are all scheduled to end on October 23.
These three programs can be extended individually or collectively until November 20 by cabinet decree. Extending them beyond this date would require the introduction of new legislation.
While the NDP and the Greens have called for an extension of these benefits, the CFIB wants to see them adjusted to ensure that they do not deter people from returning to work.
In a recent letter to Freeland, CFIB said the Canada Stimulus Benefit “contributes to a growing shortage of part-time workers across Canada.”
“While we recognize that many independent workers and business owners may still need CRB benefits, many part-time workers earn more with the program than when they work,” the letter said.
The group wants the Liberal government to change the program to ensure that no one receiving the CRB earns more on the benefit than they would if they returned to work. CFIB also wants employees called back to work to return to their old jobs or to demonstrate that they are looking for other work.