The federal government proposed a new pandemic aid bill in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon. The Hon. Chrystia Freeland introduced Bill C-2, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act. If passed, the bill will extend financial supports for workers and businesses until at least May 7th, 2022 as well as other programs similar to ones introduced at the beginning of the pandemic. Freeland said she “hope[s] Parliament will pass this legislation expeditiously so that Canadians can get the support they need and without undue delay.” She says she hopes that this legislation “will be the final stage of recovery” for Canada.
The total cost of implementing the measures stated in bill C-2 from October 21st , 2021, through to May 7th, 2022, is an estimated 7.4 billion. Since the start of the pandemic, the government of Canada has spent $289 billion on direct income supports as well as business supports.
Businesses that still face considerable challenges due to COVID-19 could be eligible for support through three targeted programs. The first is the Local Lockdown Program that would provide businesses that face pandemic-related lockdowns with wage and rent subsidies. The Tourism and Hospitality Program would provide subsidy support to hotels, tour agencies, restaurants, etc. at a rate up to 75%. Third, the Hardest-Hit Recovery Program would also provide wage and rent subsidies to businesses suffering major loss. This rate could be up to 50%.
The proposed bill would also extend the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and increase the duration from 42 weeks to 44 weeks. This benefit is for Canadians who are unable to work because they need to care for a child under the age of 12 and/or an individual in need of care.
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit would also be extended, and the duration would change from 4 weeks to 6 weeks. This benefit is for Canadians that are unable to work due to contracting COVID-19 and/or need to self-isolate due to the virus.
In an attempt to include every working citizen in the proposed legislation, bill C-2 would establish the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit. This support would be for eligible workers who are directly affected by public health lockdowns in their regions. Individuals could be given a $300 weekly income.
The Canada Recovery Hiring Program is an existing program that, if bill C-2 is passed, would be extended for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10%, as well as an increased subsidy rate of 50% to enable employers to hire the staff needed to grow. This extension is intended to create more jobs, increase hours, and help businesses hire more employees.
New Democratic Party is in support of bill C-2 after the minority Liberals agreed on two major demands put forward by the NDP’s. The first demand made by the NDP was extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he was “making sure the help that Canadians [are getting] remain [at] $2,000 per month.” The second demand was making sure the proposed legislation would include an improved paid sick leave. Details on those improvements have not been announced yet but Singh assures that it “will help millions of Canadians.”
As of now, Canada has recovered more than 100% of the jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic whereas the United States recovered 81%.