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A Brief Overview of New & Expired COVID-19 Support Measures


On October 21, 2021, the federal government announced that it will be discontinuing financial support measures provided at the peak of the pandemic.

With the majority of businesses open, capacity restrictions being lifted in many provinces and a successful vaccine campaign, Canada will be providing targeted assistance to revive certain sectors.

What employer support programs have ended?

The following programs expired on October 23, 2021:

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS): This program was in place from September 27, 2020. Through CERS, businesses who experienced a drop in revenue during the pandemic received a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): This was first introduced on March 27, 2020. CEWS benefited Canadian employers negatively affected by COVID-19. The subsidy assisted eligible employers cover part of their employee wages to enable businesses to re-hire workers and help prevent further job loss.

The expiration of these popular programs came as a shock to many small- to mid-sized business owners around the country who were expecting a further extension. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), only 40% of businesses reported that they have resumed normal sales and operations. To continue assisting these employers that are still struggling, Canada has introduced new financial assistance programs.

What employer support programs are new?

While not a brand-new program, the Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) has been extended from its original expiry date of November 20, 2021, to May 7, 2022. This program helps eligible employers who have experienced losses of over 10% in current revenue due to COVID-19. This extension is designed to assist businesses as they continue to hire back workers and create additional jobs. This benefit delivers targeted support through two streams:

  1. Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program: This will provide wage and rent subsidy support to hotels, tour operators, travel agencies and restaurants with a subsidy rate of up to 75%.
  2. Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program: This aims to assist other businesses that have faced deep losses, with a subsidy rate of up to 50%.

Businesses that apply for these programs will use a new “two-key” eligibility system where they will need to show significant revenue losses over the course of 12 months of the pandemic, in addition to revenue losses in the month they apply.

Furthermore, businesses in regions where lockdown measures are reinstated (if this should occur) will be eligible for up to the maximum amount of the wage and rent subsidy programs, regardless of losses over the course of the pandemic.

What employee support programs have ended?

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), formally called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), expired on October 23, 2021. CRB came into effect on March 15, 2020. It provided financial support to employees whose employment was directly affected by COVID-19.

This program will be replaced by a more targeted program called the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit.

What employee support programs are new?

As stated above, the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) has been established to provide income support to employees who cannot work due to the imposition of a government lockdown. The CWLB will provide $300 per week to eligible employees who are out of work due to a government-issued lockdown anytime between October 24, 2021, and May 7, 2022, for the entire duration of the shutdown.

The CWLB will be available for employees who are ineligible for EI and does not extend to workers who have had a loss of income due to non-compliance with a workplace vaccine mandate or policy.

Do you need more information on government support programs for small businesses?

Our experts can help you with company policies as well as with any other HR, health and safety, and employment advice you need. To learn more, call us today at 1 (833) 247-3652.