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March 8, 2021

Canada Extends COVID-19 Relief Programs

Minister of Finance Chyrstia Freeland announced last week that the Canadian government will extend three COVID-19 relief programs – the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), and Lockdown Support subsidies – from March 14 to June 5, 2021.

According to Freeland:

  • The maximum wage subsidy rate for active employees will remain at 75 percent;
  • The maximum rent subsidy rate will remain at 65 percent; and
  • Lockdown Support will remain at 25 percent and continue to be provided in addition to the rent subsidy, providing eligible hard-hit businesses with rent support of up to 90 percent.

Freeland said these extensions will provide certainty and continued support for workers and businesses in the face of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With regard to furloughed employees, Freeland said the government will continue to align the wage subsidy rate structure with the benefits provided through the Employment Insurance program from March 14 to June 5, 2021. That alignment means employers who qualify for the wage subsidy would be able to continue to claim up to a maximum benefit of $595 per week per employee to support remuneration of their furloughed workers.

Throughout the pandemic, applicants have needed to demonstrate revenue declines by comparing revenue to the previous year. Given that the country is approaching a full year since the COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced that applicants should still use a pre-pandemic 2019 reference month for the relief programs.

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