DPM remarks – October 9, 2020


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Since the beginning of this pandemic, our government has supported Canadian businesses hurt by COVID-19 and its economic fallout.

This includes help with payroll costs through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, interest-free loans and grants to small businesses through the Canada Emergency Business Account, and rent assistance.

In last month's Speech from the Throne, our government committed to further steps to help vulnerable businesses weather this storm.

In keeping with this pledge, today we are announcing additional, targeted help for businesses and their workers.

I want to stress that this is not for everyone. Some businesses are able to work at full capacity despite COVID-19, and they are doing well. That is great! This support is not designed for them. These measures are targeted to help those who need it most, for the time when they need it. The difficult reality is that the health measures we are all taking to contain COVID-19 mean there are some businesses that simply cannot operate at full capacity. Some are closed down by public health orders. These measures are to support them and to provide a bridge for all of us to the full containment of the virus. As the circumstances of businesses improve, support will decrease. If circumstances worsen, it will increase. That is an automatic feature built into these programs.

These measures are the result of ongoing consultations by my office and by the office of Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, with affected businesses. We have also been working very closely with the provinces and territories. And I want to stress that these consultations will continue, as we adjust to meet ever-changing circumstances.

I also want to thank National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier, Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Bob Hamilton, and everyone at the CRA for so effectively delivering critical support to Canadians.

First, we will introduce a new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy. This program will provide access to rent support until June 2021 for businesses and other organizations that have lost revenue in this crisis.

This new program replaces the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, which expired at the end of September. 

It will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or mortgage interest payments for the hardest-hit businesses with a revenue fall of 70 per cent or more. For businesses that have experienced a decline in revenue of less than 70 per cent, there will be a gradually decreasing subsidy, in line with the decline in revenues, delivering more targeted and accessible rent support.

This mirrors the successful Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and will be delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency to make the application process easier for businesses.

I want to stress one element of this plan: This subsidy will be available to businesses and other organizations that rent their premises. This will be directly available to tenants.

Second, as promised in the Speech from the Throne, we will provide additional, targeted support to businesses subject to additional lockdown restrictions. We know that across the country, as we fight the second wave of COVID-19, public health officials have been imposing new restrictions. That is the right thing to do. But it imposes costs. This targeted support will help businesses get through a new lockdown and help us all to do the right thing. The locked down businesses will get a top-up of 25 per cent of eligible rent in the event of a temporary closing and revenue shortfall due to a mandatory public health order caused by the pandemic.

Third, we are extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021, as promised in the Speech from the Throne. And we are freezing the current subsidy rate of 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19th.

This will help businesses keep workers on the payroll and encourage employers to re-hire employees who had previously been laid off.

Finally, the government is expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account, or CEBA, which will enable businesses who have already qualified for a CEBA loan to access an additional loan of $20,000, based on need.

Of this additional financing, up to half, or $10,000, would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. The application deadline for CEBA loans is also being extended to December 31, 2020. To qualify for this second round of support, businesses will need to attest to losses in revenue due to the pandemic. Details on when and how to access this new funding will be announced in the coming days.

Again, I stress that this is targeted support, based on need. It is for businesses that, through no fault of their own, cannot operate at full capacity, because of public health measures put in place to fight the pandemic.

These targeted measures will provide a bridge for our businesses to get to the other side of this pandemic. And they will give businesses, communities and public health officials across the country the economic support they need to fight the pandemic.

This is the economically smart thing to do. And it is the right thing to do.

Thank you. And I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

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