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Government introduces legislation to support Canadian workers, businesses and persons with disabilities

The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to support Canadians and protect jobs during the global COVID-19 pandemic, and to position them for a strong and safe economic restart in the wake of the crisis.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) protects jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encourages employers to re-hire workers previously laid off. Since its launch, about 3 million Canadian employees have had their jobs supported through the CEWS, and that number continues to grow.

Today Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced in Parliament Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures. Upon receiving Royal Assent, this legislation would make the CEWS more targeted, expand eligibility, and help more workers get back to their jobs as the economy continues to reopen.

Specifically, the changes proposed in Bill C-20 would:

  • Allow the extension of the CEWS until December 19, 2020, including redesigned program details until November 21, 2020.
  • Make the subsidy more accessible to a broader range of employers by providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all eligible employers that are experiencing a decline in revenues. This would help many struggling employers with less than a 30 per cent revenue loss get support to keep and bring back workers, while also ensuring those who have previously benefited could still qualify, even if their revenues recover and no longer meet the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold.
  • Introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 per cent for employers that have been most adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. This would be particularly helpful to employers in industries that are recovering more slowly.
  • Provide certainty to employers that have already made business decisions for July and August by ensuring they would not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have under the previous rules.
  • Address technical issues with the CEWS identified by stakeholders, for example by providing continuity rules to address circumstances where an employer purchased all or substantially all of another entity’s business assets.
  • Make the proposed amendments to the CEWS previously introduced in Bill C-17, An Act respecting additional COVID-19 measures.

By helping workers transition back to their jobs and supporting businesses as they increase revenues, these changes would ensure that businesses are competitive and support an increase in the number of employees being hired and re-hired because of the CEWS.

The legislation would also allow for the sharing of information to facilitate the delivery of a one-time payment for persons with disabilities. Subject to the legislation receiving Royal Assent, the Government intends to move forward with a non-taxable and non-reportable payment of up to $600 to approximately 1.7 million eligible individuals who:

  • Are holders of a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate (eligible persons not yet in possession of such a certificate would be able to apply for one up to 60 days after Royal Assent to be considered for the one-time payment);
  • Currently receive Canada Pension Plan disability benefits or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefits; or
  • Are in receipt of disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.

In these exceptional circumstances, many Canadians, businesses and other organizations may be unable to meet numerous time limits currently set out in federal legislation, including those for civil court cases and some key regulatory matters.  That is why the legislation proposes to enact a new Act that would suspend limitation periods in civil litigation proceedings as well as enable the extension or suspension of select regulatory time limits. The Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) would ensure the continued protection of Canadians’ rights in the context of civil legal proceedings, by ensuring that individuals are not prevented from asserting their rights because of the passage of a time limit. It would also ensure that Canadians, Canadian businesses and the government are able to avoid irreversible legal consequences.

The government continues to assess and respond to the impacts of COVID-19, and stands ready to take additional actions as needed to stabilize the economy and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

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