Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance: Wage and Rent Subsidy Amounts to Remain Unchanged Through to June

Speech

March 3, 2021

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Hello.

Today, we are announcing that the government will extend the current rate structures for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support from March 14 to June 5, 2021.

This means:

  • the maximum wage subsidy rate for active employees will remain at 75 per cent;
  • the maximum rent subsidy rate will remain at 65 per cent; and
  • Lockdown Support will remain at 25 per cent, providing hard-hit businesses with rent support of up to 90 per cent.

I want to be clear about why we are extending the rates for the wage subsidy, the rent subsidy and Lockdown Support.

We are doing this because, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian economy has faced its worst one-time shock since records have been kept. According to figures published by Statistics Canada yesterday, the economy contracted by 5.4 per cent.

While we have seen encouraging signs of recovery, including higher than expected growth in the fourth quarter of 2020, we are not out of the woods yet.

Today, 858,300 fewer Canadians are working than before the pandemic. We are still living with COVID-19.

We are on track to defeating the virus. Vaccines are rolling out in ever greater quantities. This is good. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

But we cannot yet definitely say we’ve turned the corner. That means public health lockdowns and the supports that sustain them, must continue to be available to Canadians, where and when they are needed.

Now, I am going to tackle this next point head-on.

I have been surprised to read some commentary suggesting that Canadians may be doing too well for their own good.

Some have pointed to rising household disposable incomes in the first nine months of last year as evidence that our government acted too swiftly and too effectively to support Canadians.

I disagree. As former Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said last year: “A firefighter has never been criticized for using too much water.”

Now, let me be very clear: When COVID-19 struck, our government needed to step up, quickly, decisively, to prevent Canadian families and Canadian businesses from falling off an economic cliff.

And our government will continue to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to help Canadians through this bleak time; to prevent economic scarring; and to invest in a way that allows us to come roaring back after COVID-19. Canadians can count on us. 

Of course we are constantly, carefully evaluating government spending, government debt, jobs numbers and economic growth. We are prudent and we are responsible.

But sometimes the greatest danger is not to act. And we understand that risk, too. 

Our government is by no means alone in taking this approach. On the contrary, we’re in the vanguard of a global response to this global crisis.

The International Monetary Fund, in a recent report, explicitly lauded Canada’s actions.

Our response, the IMF said, and I quote: “provided crucial support to the economy and the functioning of financial markets, and helped protect lives and livelihoods.”

The IMF also warned Canada, and I quote: “...to avoid a premature withdrawal of policy support.”

We are doing exactly what we need to do in times of unprecedented disruption, and that is to support Canadians. 

We will continue to do this important work.

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