COVID-19 pandemic benefits set to expire this week for Canadian businesses and individuals
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday released a statement thanking Canadian small business owners for their “dedication, perseverance, and innovation,” less than a week before a number COVID-19 pandemic financial support programs for businesses and individuals are scheduled to end.
On Oct. 23 – the last day of Small Business Week – the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are set to expire. Both programs have been extended several times since being implemented in 2020.
Over 200,000 business owners have leaned on CERS for help, and over 450,000 have received benefits from CEWS.
The passage of the Budget Implementation Act allows the government to extend CERS and the CEWS to Nov. 30. Beyond that timeline, new legislation would need to be introduced in Parliament.
But many businesses aren’t yet back on their feet, despite their doors being open again.
“We're still trying to recuperate from last year,” Marina Imperio, owner of 9Round Fitness in Aurora, Ont., told CTV News. “How are we able to function If all subsidies are cut and we're still running a deficit because of all the lockdowns and restrictions?”
Restaurant owners have been particularly hard-hit. According to a survey by Restaurants Canada, eight out of 10 restaurants across the country are either losing money or barely breaking even, while seven out of 10 are currently taking advantage of government subsidy programs.
Trystan Halpert, senior director of operations at Chop Steakhouse & Bar, told CTV News that these programs are “very helpful.
“It’s a little bit too early to discontinue those given the fact that most of our operations across the country have not been able to open up at full capacity,” he said.
As for individual benefits, the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB) are also set to terminate on Saturday. These programs, too, can be extended into November by the government.
Brooke Gil had a full-time job until the pandemic hit. But now, her only income is the CRB, which is about to expire, putting the mother of three in a precarious position. Her youngest child is only six months old.
“We need help, this isn't fair, we worked for our hours, we deserve this time off, just as other mothers do,” she told CTV News.
More than two million Canadians have applied for CRB to date. Nearly 700,000 have applied for CRSB and over 450,000 for CRCB. Although all of the programs can be extended until November without introducing new legislation, there is still no word on if that extension will happen.
With files from CTVNews.ca’s Sarah Turnbull, Nicole Bogart, Alexandra Mae Jones and Brooklyn Neustaeter, and The Canadian Press