The federal government is temporarily expanding eligibility for its key income support programs to more Canadians, in light of recent COVID-19 restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the expansion of the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) and Local Lockdown Program during a virtual news conference on Dec. 22, accompanied by several ministers.
“We are announcing our decision to temporarily expand the definition of a lockdown so that these wage and rent support programs can support workers and businesses that see capacity restricted by 50 percent or more,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.
“It means that if you are an employer who has to reduce the capacity of your main business by 50 percent or more, you will be eligible for wage and rent subsidy support through the Local Lockdown Program.”
The government also lowered the current 40 percent monthly revenue decline threshold for businesses to 25 percent. Eligible employers will receive wage and rent subsidies between 25 percent to 75 percent, depending on how much revenue they’ve lost.
Organizations eligible for the program must demonstrate a loss of revenue during the current month compared with the same period in 2019.
The CWLB, announced last week, was created to provide temporary financial support for those affected by COVID-19-related public health measures, similar to its predecessors such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).
However, the CWLB was previously available to those who are experiencing a COVID-19 lockdown order longer than 14 days. Following the expansion, the CWLB is eligible to workers in regions where provincial or territorial governments have announced capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 percent or more.
Workers eligible for the CWLB can receive $300 per week, and can apply for any weeks that their regions are under lockdown between Oct. 24, 2021 and May 7, 2022.
The two support programs were introduced as part of Bill C-2, new legislation that received royal assent on Dec. 17. The Liberal government came under fire following the announcement of the programs, since no regions in Canada were facing a lockdown of more than 14 days.