Extended COVID-19 pandemic benefits to cost feds $873M: PBO
OTTAWA -- Extending both the sickness and caregiving benefits into next spring – as proposed in Bill C-2 – will cost the government approximately $873.6 million, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) estimates.
New costing reports published Tuesday states that prolonging the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) by 28 weeks, or until May 7, 2022, and expanding the claim period from four to six weeks would come with a price tag of $507 million.
Meanwhile, extending the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) to the same time frame and the claim period from 42 to 44 weeks will cost $366.6 million.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland formally introduced the new “targeted” pandemic aid bill, prolonging some benefits and revamping others.
Freeland said she hopes this is the last round of extensions.
“I see this legislation as very much the last step in our COVID-19 support programs. It is what I really hope and truly believe is the final pivot,” she said on Nov. 24.
Members of Parliament have begun debate on the proposed legislation – the Liberals hope to have it passed before the House rises for the holidays on Dec. 17.
The PBO also costed out the expected support that will flow through the new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program.
The office predicts an additional $676 million in subsidies will be paid out beyond those already approved. Of that amount, it’s expected that $134 million will flow through the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery program and $542 will flow through the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program.
“With this extension, we expect the gross cost of the [Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy] to be $8.3 billion. This represents a net cost to the federal government of $7.2 billion after accounting for corporate income tax recoveries,” the report reads.
The CRSB provides income support to employed and self-employed Canadians who are unable to work because they are sick with COVID-19 or having to self-isolate. Eligible applicants can receive $500 for a one-week period.
The CRCB provides income support to employed and self-employed Canadians who are unable to work because they are caring for a child under 12-years-old or a family member who needs supervised care. Eligible applicants can receive $500 for a one-week period.
The Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program applies to hotels, tour operators, travel agencies and restaurants with a subsidy rate of up to 75 per cent, while the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program applies to other businesses that have faced “deep losses,” with a subsidy rate of up to 50 per cent.
In order to qualify for the former, businesses would have to show a 12-month revenue loss of at least 40 per cent and a current-month revenue decline of the same amount. For the latter, businesses would have to show a 12-month revenue loss of at least 50 per cent and a current-month revenue decline of the same amount.
The government is also proposing a Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, replacing the popular Canada Response Benefit. It’s geared towards those whose work is directly impacted by lockdowns and would provide a benefit of $300 a week. The PBO did not individual cost out this program.