Last year, the Government of Canada put in place an economic response plan with unprecedented measures to meet the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic. The plan is working: Canada exceeded its goal of creating a million new jobs, well ahead of expectations; Canada has the second-fastest jobs recovery in the G7; and Canada has recouped 106 per cent of the jobs lost at the depths of the pandemic, compared to only 83 per cent in the U.S. Canada is in the midst of a strong recovery from the COVID-19 recession.
However, the pandemic continues to have an impact on Canadians and Canadian businesses. The government is targeting its support to deliver help where it is needed so we can have an inclusive recovery that delivers jobs and growth across the economy.
The best economic policy continues to be ending the pandemic.
Extending the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
The government has introduced legislation to extend the caregiving and sickness benefit until May 7, 2022, and increase the maximum duration of benefits by two weeks. This would extend the caregiving benefit from 42 weeks to 44 weeks and the sickness benefit from four weeks to six weeks.
The government is also proposing the flexibility to extend the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit until July 2, 2022, should public health considerations warrant it.
The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit
The proposed Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit will provide income support at a rate of $300 per week to workers whose employment is interrupted as a result of a specific government-imposed public health lockdown and who are unable to work due to such restrictions. The benefit would be available until May 7, 2022, with retroactive application to October 24, 2021, should the situation warrant it.
The government is also proposing the flexibility to extend the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit until July 2, 2022, should public health considerations warrant it.
Help for Guaranteed Income Supplement Recipients and Students Affected by CERB Payments
Many low-income seniors who receive Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) or Allowance benefits have seen a decline in their benefit amount, with some facing a total loss of this support for 2021-22. Additionally, some students applied for and received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) despite not being eligible and could find themselves facing potentially significant repayments.
The government proposes to provide up to $742.4 million for one-time payments to alleviate the financial hardship of GIS and Allowance recipients who received CERB or the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) in 2020. The government will continue to investigate ways to limit potential benefit reductions for vulnerable seniors who received emergency and recovery benefits.
The government also proposes to provide debt relief to students who, although ineligible, received the CERB, by allowing their CERB-related debt to be offset by the amount they would have received from the CESB.
Enhancing the Home Office Expense Deduction
As workplaces around the country continue to grapple with the return to the office, many Canadians continue to work from home for all or part of their jobs.
To continue to support Canadians working from home due to the pandemic, the government will extend the simplified rules for deducting home office expenses and increase the temporary flat rate to $500 annually. These rules will apply to the 2021 and 2022 tax years.
Support for Workers in the Live Performance Sector
Restrictions on gatherings and the closure of venues has meant that tens of thousands of workers in the live performance sector continue to face significantly reduced incomes. Despite the gradual easing of public health restrictions across the country, many of these workers continue to face financial hardship. The lag in the sector’s recovery is also due to sector-specific factors like the time it takes to finance, develop, and rehearse the performances these workers rely on for income. The government is committed to ensuring Canada’s recovery includes a vibrant live performance sector.
The government is proposing to establish a new $60 million Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund. This temporary program will be administered by Canadian Heritage and will aim to fund new or enhanced sector-led and -delivered initiatives that improve the economic, career, and personal circumstances of individual workers in the live performance sector.
Enhancing Support for Teachers
Whether teaching from home or in the classroom, teachers have shown — throughout the pandemic, and always — that they are willing to go above and beyond to make sure that their students receive the best education.
To support teachers and early childhood educators in Canada, the government proposes to expand and enrich the Eligible Educator School Supply Tax Credit to allow them to claim a refundable tax credit worth 25 per cent (up from 15 per cent) of up to $1,000, and to ensure that purchased supplies may be eligible no matter where they are used.
The government also proposes to expand the list of eligible teaching supplies to include electronic devices such as graphing calculators, digital timers, and tools for remote learning.
Support for Businesses
Extending the Canada Recovery Hiring Program
Workers are the backbone of our economy and of every business’ success. In order for our economy to recover and grow, we need to make sure to support the creation of good jobs in sectors across the economy. On November 24, 2021, the government introduced Bill C-2 to extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program until May 7, 2022, for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10 per cent, and to increase the subsidy rate to 50 per cent.
Targeting Supports for Deeply Affected Businesses
The government recognizes that while the recovery is underway, it is still uneven. Some businesses are highly affected with deep and enduring losses. In order to support these businesses and make sure they can recover and grow, the government introduced Bill C-2to adapt pandemic support programs and target them to organizations that have been deeply affected by the pandemic.
- The Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program would provide support through wage and rent subsidies to organizations in the tourism and hospitality sectors such as hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, restaurants, and organizations that plan and host festivals or live performances, with a subsidy rate of up to 75 per cent.
- The Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program would provide support through wage and rent subsidies to organizations that have faced deep losses, with a subsidy rate of up to 50 per cent.
- The Local Lockdown Program would provide organizations that face new local COVID-19-related lockdowns with up to the maximum amount available through the wage and rent subsidy programs.
These programs would be available until May 7, 2022, with the proposed subsidy rates available until March 12, 2022. From March 13 to May 7, 2022, the support would decrease by half, in anticipation that our recovery will be firmly taking hold in all areas of the economy.
Relieving Supply Chain Congestion
Supply chain disruptions around the world and shipping bottlenecks have made it harder for Canadians and businesses to get the products and supplies they need, and in many cases are contributing to rising prices. The recent devastating flooding in British Columbia has only exacerbated these pressures.
To help strengthen supply chains and address bottlenecks, in 2021-22, the government will launch a new, targeted call for proposals under the National Trade Corridors Fund to assist Canadian ports with the acquisition of cargo storage capacity and other measures to relieve supply chain congestion. The fund will dedicate up to $50 million, to support eligible priority projects. Further details on the targeted call for proposals will be announced in the coming weeks.
Extending Credit Support for Businesses
The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program has been providing government-guaranteed, low-interest loans of up to $1 million to organizations that have seen significant revenue losses as a result of the pandemic.
To ensure that businesses continue to have access to the credit they need to maintain their operations and invest in their recovery, the government is extending the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program to March 31, 2022. This program was set to expire on December 31, 2021.