The Local Lockdown Program and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit were introduced in October 2021 and became law on December 17, 2021. These benefits are available from October 24, 2021, to May 7, 2022.
On December 22, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, announced the federal government’s intention to temporarily expand eligibility for key support programs to ensure Canadians are protected and workers and businesses get the help they need to sustain them through new and necessary public health restrictions. Using regulatory authority provided in Bill C-2, the government intends to introduce new regulations that would:
- Expand the Local Lockdown Program 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.
- Expand the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit to include workers in regions where provincial or territorial governments have introduced capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more. As announced previously, 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.
These updated regulations will apply from December 19, 2021, to February 12, 2022, during which time it is expected that public health authorities will continue to implement “circuit-breaker” restrictions that limit the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 across Canada.
- The expansion of support programs is expected to cost about $4 billion and will be fully covered by the $4.5 billion Omicron provision announced in the recent Economic and Fiscal Update 2021. This is in addition to the initial cost estimate of $7.4 billion when the programs were announced in October 2021.
- The government recently implemented other new measures to ensure workers and businesses have the urgent help they need. This includes:
- Extending the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit until May 7, 2022, and increasing the maximum duration of benefits by 2 weeks. This extends the caregiving benefit from 42 to 44 weeks and the sickness benefit from 4 to 6 weeks. People can now apply retroactively to periods between November 21, 2021 and December 11, 2021.
- Launching the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, providing support through wage and rent subsidies to, for example, hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, and restaurants, with a subsidy rate of up to 75 per cent. The eligible types of businesses are detailed in the legislation and a related backgrounder.
- Launching the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program, providing support through wage and rent subsidies to other businesses that have faced deep losses, with a subsidy rate of up to 50 per cent.
- Extending the Canada Recovery Hiring Program until May 7, 2022, for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10 per cent and increasing the subsidy rate to 50 per cent. This extension will help businesses continue to hire back workers, increase hours, and create the additional jobs Canada needs for a robust recovery.