The Canadian government is extending the COVID-19 emergency wage and rent subsidies until the beginning of June.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canadian Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and lockdown support measures, set to expire on March 14, will now be extended to June 5.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the maximum wage subsidy rate would remain at 75%, and the maximum rent subsidy will be 65%. She added that lockdown support would remain at 25%, with the government providing hard-hit businesses with rent support of 90%.
“If you are a worker or business owner, you can have the certainty and support you need until the spring. We are here to provide you with the support you need,” Freeland said.
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According to Freeland, the extension for the wage subsidy will cost the federal government an additional $2.1 billion.
“The Canadian economy has faced its worse shock wave,” she said. “Even with encouraging signs of a recovery, with higher growth in the fourth quarter in 2020, we are not at the end of it. Today, there are 800,000 fewer Canadians working than at the beginning of the pandemic.”
The deputy prime minister added that supports must be available to Canadians “where and when they are needed” and that the federal government has needed to provide support to ensure the country doesn’t fall off an “economic cliff.”
Freeland assured that the government carefully evaluates federal debt and spending but that the “greatest danger is not to act.”