Federal Economic Relief Programs and Updates

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced on April 24 that the federal government has reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. The government is also providing further details on the program:

The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June. 

The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.
Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

The Government of Canada is expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9, 2020, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses.

Updates to Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The federal government announced changes to CERB to help more Canadians benefit from the program. The changes will allow people to earn up to $1,000 a month while collecting the CERB. Benefits will also be extended to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work as a result of the pandemic, and for workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or work because of COVID-19. The changes are retroactive to March 15, 2020. Details will be posted on the portal.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

The Government of Canada is proposing a new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to support employers that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and protect the jobs Canadians depend on. The subsidy would cover 75 per cent of an employee’s wages – up to $847 per week - for employers of all sizes and across all sectors who have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15 per cent in March, and 30 per cent in April and May. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. 

The federal government is also proposing that employers eligible for the CEWS be entitled to receive a 100-per-cent refund for certain employer contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan paid in respect of employees who are on leave with pay.

Changes to Canada Summer Jobs Program

Canada’s small businesses increasingly depend on the employment of young Canadians. The changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program will help small businesses hire and keep the workers they need so they can continue to deliver essential services. This program will help create up to 70,000 jobs for youth between 15 and 30 years of age.

The temporary changes to the program for this year include:

  • an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee
  • an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
  • allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services
  • allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis