Ottawa expands eligibility for pandemic support programs

December 27, 2021

Ottawa has announced it will temporarily expand eligibility for key support programs to ensure Canadians are protected and workers and businesses get the help they need to sustain them as additional public health restrictions roll out in response to the Omicron variant.

For one, the Local Lockdown Program will be expanded to include employers subject to capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more; and reduce the current-month revenue decline threshold requirement to 25 per cent.

Eligible employers will receive wage and rent subsidies from 25 per cent up to a maximum of 75 per cent, depending on their degree of revenue loss. The 12-month revenue decline test continues to not be required in order to access this support, says Ottawa.

In addition, the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) will be expanded to include workers in regions where provincial or territorial governments have introduced capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more. This benefit will provide $300 a week in income support to eligible workers who are directly affected by a COVID-19-related public health lockdown, and who have lost 50 per cent or more of their income as a result.

The changes will apply from Dec. 19, 2021, to Feb. 12, 2022.

“The Omicron variant is a real and serious threat to the health and safety of Canadians and the capacity of our health care system. In light of the public health situation and new restrictions in a number of provinces, we are temporarily expanding eligibility for key support measures offered for workers and businesses,” says Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and minister of finance.

“Ottawa’s changes to wage and rent supports are not perfect, but are a significant improvement over the legislation passed just last week,” says Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation for Independent Business (CFIB).

Just last week, Ottawa approved legislation to extend other support programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Canada Recovery Hiring Program and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and introduce a new one for workers, including the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program, and the Local Lockdown Program.

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