The federal government is expanding access to pandemic financial supports, as much of the country grapples with surging COVID-19 infections and new restrictions are implemented across the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the measures in a news conference Wednesday, in which he appeared virtually. Trudeau said he was following local public health advice after six members of his staff and security detail tested positive for COVID-19.
“For the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and the Local Lockdown Program, you’ll be able to apply if you’re subject to capacity limiting restrictions,” Trudeau said.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland explained that the government would be changing what they considered to be a “lockdown,” widening the eligibility for businesses and employees.
WATCH | Trudeau announces expanded supports for more businesses, employees:
Employees in regions where governments have introduced capacity restrictions of 50 per cent or more will now be eligible for the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, if they’ve lost more than half their income.
It means more Canadians are now able to take advantage of the $300-per-week program.
Similarly, employers who are subject to capacity restrictions of 50 per cent or more and face current-month declines in revenue of at least 25 per cent can apply for the Local Lockdtown Program, which grants wage subsidies from 25-75 per cent depending on revenue loss.
The expanded eligibility is expected to cost $4 billion, the government said in a release. The new regulations will apply retroactively to Dec. 19 and last until Feb. 12, 2022.
The changes announced today are to programs that were enabled by the passage of Bill C-2, which received royal assent last week. But until now, no one had been eligible for the benefits because a full lockdown had not been declared in any part of the country.
Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, responded quickly on Twitter, calling the changes “good news [and] a direct recommendation from CFIB.”
Kelly noted, in particular, the shift to a revenue decline of 25 per cent, noting “The bar remains high, but this is a significant improvement.”