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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Ottawa announces new and extended programs to aid businesses, non-profits

Friday, October 09, 2020 @ 4:02 PM | By John Schofield

Ottawa has unveiled a set of new support programs for businesses as Canada posted its highest ever one-day increase in new COVID-19 cases and firmly entered the second wave of the pandemic.

In a lengthy news conference and accompanying news release, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Health Minister Patty Hajdu, joined by the chief public health officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, described the new measures as “targeted supports to help hard-hit businesses and other organizations experiencing a drop in revenue.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“We’re at a tipping point in this pandemic,” Trudeau told the news conference. “Our top priority is keeping Canadians safe as we support people through this storm.”

Tam said 2,400 new cases were recorded across the country on Oct. 8, the highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic. 

Freeland gave details on four programs designed to help businesses get through the second wave of the virus and the winter and said the government intends to introduce legislation to implement them “in the near future.”

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy would give eligible businesses, charities and non-profits rent and mortgage support until June 2021 and be provided directly to tenants and property owners. According to the government news release, it would subsidize a percentage of expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent until Dec. 19, 2020. Organizations that have suffered a revenue drop would be able to make claims retroactively for the period from Sept. 27 to Oct. 24, 2020.

The government announced that organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order would be eligible for an additional 25 per cent rent subsidy under the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.

In addition, it announced the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021 to help businesses keep employees on the payroll or rehire workers. The subsidy would remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until Dec. 19, 2020.

“This measure,” stated the news release, “is part of the government’s commitment to create over one million jobs and restore employment to the level it was before the pandemic.”

The government also plans to expand the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to enable businesses and not-for-profits affected by the pandemic to access an extra interest-free loan of up to $20,000 in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of the additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by Dec. 31, 2022. The application deadline for CEBA is also being extended to Dec. 31, 2020. The government promised further details in the coming days but noted that “an attestation of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will be required to access the additional financing.”

As of early October, the news release noted, more than 765,000 CEBA loans have been approved, totalling more than $30 billion.

“As we get through this difficult situation,” Freeland said in the release, “we will keep taking action to support our businesses, protect jobs, and keep Canadians safe and healthy.”

The government also announced plans to provide an additional $100 million through the Emergency Food Security Fund to help food banks and local food organizations support Canadians struggling with food insecurity. The funding will be distributed through national and regional organizations to local food banks.

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