Liberals Considering Whether to Extend Expiring Pandemic Supports for Businesses, Individuals

A number of the federal government’s pandemic supports for individuals and businesses are set to come to an end on October 23. Business and industry groups are acutely aware of the coming end to the pandemic supports they say are still needed to keep the economy afloat, and they say they want the federal government to take action now.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was consulting with economists, business and labour groups, her department and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the appropriate next steps, but she also noted that there remains significant uncertainty about the future. Five programs are scheduled to end on Oct. 23. Three of them provide assistance to individuals, while the other two provide targeted help to businesses.

Supports for businesses

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) both expire on October 23 but can be extended by the federal cabinet until Nov. 30. Extending these programs beyond that date would require the introduction of new legislation. While these two subsidies are set to expire on Oct. 23, the deadline to apply for each claim period is six months after the end of the claim period itself — so businesses can claim for wages paid out in the final week of the program up until April 21.  

During the federal election campaign, the Liberals promised to provide the struggling tourism industry with wage and rent supports “up to 75% of their expenses to help them get through the winter.” The government has made no announcements on those supports yet. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce want those extensions to apply to all businesses in Canada.

The CFIB said that a large number of small businesses are still struggling because of the pandemic’s fourth wave. It said that only 76% of small businesses are fully open, only 45% are fully staffed and only 49% are bringing in normal revenues. The CFIB said it wants the rent and wage subsidies extended to March 31, 2022. It also wants the Canada Recovery Hiring Program, which is set to expire on Nov. 20, to be extended until the same date. 

Supports for individuals

Three support programs for individuals are also set to expire. The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB) are all scheduled to end on Oct. 23. All three of these programs can be extended individually or collectively until Nov. 20 by an order of f

While the NDP and the Greens have called for an extension of these benefits, the CFIB wants to see them adjusted to ensure that they do not dissuade people from returning to work.

In a recent letter to Freeland, the CFIB said the Canada Recovery Benefit “is contributing to a growing shortage of part-time labour availability across Canada. While we recognize that many workers and self-employed business owners may still require CRB benefits, many part-time workers are earning more on the program than when working,” the letter said.

The group wants the Liberal government to change the program to ensure that no one receiving the CRB is earning more on the benefit than they would if they returned to work. The CFIB also wants employees recalled to work to take up their old jobs or demonstrate that they are looking for alternative work.

Recovery benefit still needed: Canadian Labour Congress

Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, disagrees. She said the Canada Recovery Benefit is not keeping workers from returning to their jobs and is still very much needed. 

“A lot of the folks that are utilizing that benefit right now are folks working in hospitality and accommodations and various different service sector types of jobs,” she said. “When you are talking about people working in retail, yes, they may be back at work, but if they’re working 10 hours a week as compared to 35 hours a week, it’s a significant difference in their paycheque.” Bruske said some workers want to return to work but cannot because their child care providers have not returned to full capacity. She also said that people with elderly family members needing care may fear for their safety in long term care and may be opting instead to stay home with them. 

Source: CBC

Canada-U.S. Land Border to Open for Fully Vaccinated on November 8

Come Nov. 8, fully vaccinated Canadians will once again be able to cross into the United States by land for leisure trips, the White House says. A White House official told Global News the new policy applies to international air travellers as well.

On Nov. 8, non-essential travellers crossing land borders from Canada or Mexico will be asked about their vaccination status, and only those who are fully vaccinated will be allowed through. Proof of vaccination will be required if selected for random screening.

COVID-19 testing will not be required to enter the U.S. by land or sea, provided visitors meet vaccination requirements, officials said. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test is still required to board a flight to the U.S., and proof of vaccination will be mandatory.

The White House added that by January 2022, foreign nationals travelling across the land border for both essential and non-essential reasons will be required to be fully vaccinated.

In recent days, the U.S. announced that travellers who received any vaccines approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as the World Health Organization, will be allowed to enter the country. This means Canadians who received AstraZeneca’s vaccine — which is approved by the WHO — will be welcomed.

Canadians with mixed vaccines and U.S. travel plans can also breathe a sigh of relief. Following weeks of speculation, the United States confirmed late on October 15 that it will accept mixed vaccines when new rules kick in on Nov. 8 requiring that foreign travellers entering the U.S. be fully vaccinated. 

Individuals inoculated with any combination of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization will be considered fully vaccinated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told CBC News. WHO-approved vaccines include Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and its Indian-made counterpart, Covishield. So travellers with any combination of these vaccines will be allowed to enter the U.S. 

The CDC does not recognize mixing COVID-19 vaccines but said it updated its guidance to reflect growing global acceptance of the practice. 

Source: Globe and Mail
Source: CBC
Source: CBC