Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, on Wednesday announced the federal government’s intention to temporarily expand access to Lockdown Program and Worker Lockdown Benefit.
“The Omicron variant is a real and serious threat to the health and safety of Canadians and the capacity of our health care system. In light of the public health situation and new restrictions in a number of provinces, we are temporarily expanding eligibility for key support measures offered for workers and businesses. The federal government will continue to help Canadians through the pandemic and ensure Canada’s economic recovery leaves no one behind,” Minister Freeland said.
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, the Department of Finance said in a statement.
The statement further added that the government also intends to 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, the statement added.
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.
Today’s 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.