Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a series of additional measures to help businesses weather the second wave of COVID-19 on Friday, including a much-anticipated new version of the Commercial Rent Assistance Program.
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“This support will go directly to companies that have lost income due to the crisis,” he said at the outset, responding to a long-standing criticism of the business community.
The new program, which runs until June, called “Canada Emergency Rent Grant”, will cover up to 65% of rent or contractors’ mortgage payments, the Minister of Finance said. Chrystia Freeland.
Companies that have to close their doors due to sanitary guidelines will qualify for an additional 25%.
“We know the second wave will be even more difficult for those who will be affected. Our response must be targeted and effective, ”added Mr. Trudeau.
Freeland said Ottawa estimates the new grant will cost $ 2.2 billion by the end of this year, but it is difficult to estimate how many people will receive this assistance as it will depend on the evolution of the health crisis.
The federal government has also announced that small businesses that qualify for the Canadian Business Emergency Account (CUEC), offering loans of $ 40,000, will be able to receive an additional $ 20,000. This improvement will cost $ 11 billion, according to preliminary estimates.
Ottawa also offered initial details on its roadmap for the extension of the wage subsidy until next summer, as mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. The current rate of the subsidy, which is 65%, is frozen until December 19, which will then have to be revised. The federal government has already spent $ 41 billion on this program and anticipates that it will spend $ 6 billion until December 19.
A bill must be passed in parliament to put in place the measures announced on Friday.
Recall that the old program of assistance for commercial rents, which ended last month, was long criticized as ineffective since it required, a priori, the collaboration of building owners.
The latter were the ones who had the responsibility of filling out an application, in addition to accepting to pay 25% of the monthly bill. In return, the federal and provincial governments paid 50% of the bill, with the aim of leaving only 25% to tenant companies.
The program, in its initial form, was also criticized since companies had to demonstrate a minimum loss of revenue of 70%. Businesses with lower losses will now be able to receive the Canada Emergency Rent Grant. The amount received will be adjusted according to the severity of the losses.
$ 100 million more for food banks
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an additional investment of $ 100 million to help food banks meet the increased demand with the second wave of COVID-19.
“The investment announced today comes in addition to emergency federal funding for 1,800 local projects that are helping two million Canadians grapple with food insecurity,” said Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau , alluding to an envelope of $ 100 million already allocated in April.