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Canada Expands Access to Covid Relief Benefits In 2022

With the threat of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, it’s expected that public health restrictions and lockdowns will increase. That’s why the federal government is implementing regulations to expand access to vital Covid relief benefit programs for businesses and workers.

The Government of Canada is looking to temporarily expand access to essential worker and business support programs.

On the 22nd of December 2021, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, announced the expansion of eligibility for Covid relief benefits that aim to help businesses and workers get through the latest public health measures and lockdowns.

Expanding Access to Support Programs for Businesses and Workers

Utilizing Bill C-2’s regulatory authority, the Canadian government proposes new regulations to temporarily expand access to vital support programs and benefits for workers and businesses.

Expanded Local Lockdown Program

With the previous Local Lockdown Program, the benefits are exclusive only to employers affected by lockdowns. However, the federal government now includes employers subject to capacity-limiting restrictions.

The updated regulation to the program will provide qualifications to businesses that have:

  • One or more locations affected by the public health capacity restrictions of 50% or more.
  • Business operations or activities are restricted by lockdowns. This results in at least 50% of the total qualifying revenues in the prior reference period.

Moreover, the Canadian government aims to temporarily reduce the threshold for the current-month revenue loss to 25%. Employers must show current-month losses to avail of the program. No need for a 12-month revenue decline test to qualify for it.

Employers with a 25% current-month revenue loss will be eligible for a starting wage and rent subsidy of 25%, which increases in proportion to the current-month revenue decline of the business. Eligible employers can qualify for a maximum rate of 75% wage and rent subsidies.

Expanded Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit

The updated Worker Lockdown Benefit aims to give income support to eligible workers affected by public health restrictions and are unable to work because of the lockdowns.

The Government of Canada, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, has proposed to temporarily broaden the definition of a public health lockdown for the aim of this program.

A lockdown order will change according to this updated program. to include territorial and provincial orders requiring capacity-limiting restrictions of 50% or more – starting from December 19, 2021, to February 12, 2022. The new version of the regulation will also reduce the minimum number of days of a lockdown order from 14 consecutive days to 7 straight days.

After the end of the implementation of the new Worker Lockdown Benefit on February 12, 2022, the original definition of a lockdown order will resume, invalidating the temporary definition stated in the Expanded Worker Lockdown Benefit.

The Expanded Worder Lockdown Benefit that will provide $300 weekly income support will be available to workers:

  • Whose employment is interrupted due to public health lockdowns imposed by the government.
  • Who are not eligible for Employment Insurance and those eligible for Employment Insurance provided that they’re not paid benefits through the said insurance for the same period. 
  • Who have an income loss of 50% or more because of the lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infections.

The who refuse vaccination are ineligible for this Covid relief benefit. The regulations mentioned will take effect from December 19, 2021, to February 12, 2022. This duration should be sufficient to check the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant across the country.

Other Measures Implemented by the Government of Canada

The Government of Canada has implemented other measures for businesses and workers.

Extending Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit aims to provide economic support to households caring for family members and children because of Covid-19. The extension lasts until May 7, 2022.

To qualify for this program, you must be a previously employed individual. However, you are now unable to work because you’re caring for your child or family member under 12 years of age. Or if you’re caring for a person who has Covid-19 or is self-isolating because of the virus.

Extending Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit provides support to those unable to work because of sickness or in need of self-isolation. Individuals with existing health conditions may also apply for this benefit.

This program will provide $500 income support to eligible individuals each week that they’re unable to work. You can now apply for a maximum of six weeks for this financial support program. It’s also valid through May 7, 2022.

Extending Canada Recovery Hiring Program

The Canada Recovery Hiring Program supports employers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Eligible employers with current revenue losses of more than 10% can apply for a subsidy. This can cover a portion of wages as they hire new workers, increase working hours, and create new job positions. This program lasts until May 7, 2022.

Launching Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program

The Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program aims to provide support through rent and wage subsidies to travel agencies, restaurant businesses, tour operators, and hotel operators. Such businesses can avail of a 75% subsidy rate to continue their operations despite the pandemic.

Launching Hardest-Hit Business Program

The Hardest-Hit Business Program provides support to businesses, non-profit organizations, and charities. Eligible organizations can get rent and wage subsidies of up to 50% rate. To qualify, an organization must have at least a 50% revenue decline from March 2020 to February 2021. Otherwise, you must have at least 50% of the claim period revenue loss.

Takeaway

Now you know about the temporary expansion of the Local Lockdown Program and Worker Lockdown Benefit. Apply for these Covid relief benefits if you’re experiencing economic losses because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Make sure to research first before you make your application.

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