In light of one of the more threatening and deadly pandemics of all time, the Canadian government launched the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan on March 18th, 2020.
As non-essential services were closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, many businesses temporarily, or permanently shut their doors and let their employees go.
Since Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, new programs have been accessed by Canadians struggling with illness, job loss, loss of revenue/business and more.
Here are some of those programs and updates on the results of these programs (as of June/July 2020):
- The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
- CERB was launched to assist Canadians are out of work due to issues from the COVID-19 outbreak by providing financial assistance of $2,000 payments per month
- As of June 28 – CERB has provided support to 8.16 million Canadians; equating to $53 billion
- The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
- CEBA was created to assist qualifying businesses with their immediate cash flow and payroll needs due to lack of revenue from COVID-19 by providing $40,000 loans that are interest-free for the first year, and $10,000 can be forgivable if paid back by December 31, 2022
- As of July 3 – $27.41 billion in funds have been disbursed, including $7 billion of which is forgivable. Over 60% of eligible businesses have benefited from this program.
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
- CEWS was implemented to assist qualifying businesses keep their employees on the payroll, by covering 75% of an employee’s wages and extending a 100% refund on certain employer contributions
- As of July 6 – CEWS has helped more than 3 million workers return to work and paid out $18.01 billion to 252,370 companies
- The program has been extended until December 2020
- Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
- CECRA was introduced to help lower rent for eligible small businesses by 75 per cent in April, May and June, with a one-month optional extension to cover July rent
- As of July 3, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the CECRA program administrator, has approved applications representing over 29,000 small businesses with over 209,000 employees, and total requested funding of over $221 million
- In addition to thousands of applications by property owners in progress or being processed, CMHC is working closely with large property owners to complete applications to provide rent support to a further 25,000 small businesses
Regardless of this assistance, Statistics Canada recorded an 13.0% unemployment rate in Canada for April 2020. This is almost double the 7.8% unemployment rate recorded for March 2020. This equates to almost 3 million Canadians who have lost their jobs, and 2.5 million more experiencing decreased hours/income. In May 2020 however, Canada’s unemployment rate reached 13.7%, which is the highest rate since December 1982 (13.1%). Luckily, in June 2020 there has been a drop in the unemployment rate by 1.4%, bringing it to 12.3%.
Despite the high unemployment rate, there is hope. With the additional support, business reopening and more Canadians hopefully seeking out employment, the CEWS will be extended until December to help small business keep employees on the payroll and doors open.