Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the federal government will extend three COVID-19 support programs until June to continue support Canadian jobs and businesses through the government-mandated shutdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown support will be extended from March 14 to June 5, with the current rate structures remaining the same.
“This means the maximum wage subsidy rate for active employees will remain at 75 percent. The maximum rent subsidy rate will remain at 65 percent and lockdown support will remain at 25 percent, providing hard hit businesses with rent support of up to 90 percent,” Freeland said during a press conference Wednesday.
The reason for the extension is because Canada has yet to “turn the corner” from this pandemic, she said, adding that the “public health lockdowns, and the supports that sustain them must continue to be available to Canadians, where and when they are needed.”
As of Feb. 21, the federal government has paid out over $66 billion in wage subsidies and $1.6 billion in rent subsidies, according to the Department of Finance.
Freeland said that the government’s approach is “very cautious” and had already anticipated that it might be necessary to extend the programs. “It had already been set out in all the figures that we had published in November.”
With regards to the wage subsidy, Freeland said the additional cost from the extension to June will be about $13.9 billion while the rent subsidy will cost another $2.1 billion.
She added that the level of support the federal government is providing will depend on the situation Canadian businesses face and their revenues.