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COVID-19 Update
Government of Canada actions on COVID-19
April 1, 2020
Today the government provided a few more details about their support for business and workers in response to the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. Here are the highlights:
CANADA EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY DETAILS
  • As announced previously, the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would give employers with a 30% or greater decline in revenue a 75% wage subsidy for the first $58,700 of salary, up to $847 per employee per week. The government news release for the program can be found here.
  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will apply to all businesses large and small that have experienced a drop in revenue of 30% or more, as long as they are not publicly-funded. Non-profits and charities that see the same decline in revenue are also eligible. We believe that both privately owned and publicly traded companies will be eligible based on this description.
  • Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the 30% decline in revenue threshold will be determined by comparing the current month’s revenues to the same month last year. Business owners will need to re-apply each month. The government is looking at options for new businesses that don’t have an established revenue history.
  • Businesses will need to attest they are doing everything they can to pay the remaining 25% of employee income. The government knows this isn’t always possible and will be flexible. What is more important is people return to work. The government is asking employers to be prepared to rehire.
  • Funds will be available in approximately 6 weeks. Businesses will be able to apply online through a CRA portal that will be available soon. In the meantime, Minister Morneau said only 50% of businesses are on direct deposit with CRA and has asked that all businesses sign up for it.
  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is the largest economic program in Canada’s history and will cost an estimated $71 billion. Minister Morneau noted that this measure will reduce the estimated cost of the Canade Emergency Response Benefit to $24 billion. All direct spending related to the pandemic is expected to total in excess of $105 billion.
  • The Prime Minister has spoken to the House Leader and Speaker of the House of Commons about recalling Parliament. The government has positioned this as respecting the role of the opposition given the size of the program, but we believe that the legislation passed last week needs to be adjusted to enable the expanded wage subsidy.
CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT & EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
  • Minister Qualtrough announced that the government has received 2.1 million Employment Insurance (EI) applications in the last two weeks. 430,000 of these applications have been processed. However, the government says it has added new capacity to process 400,000 applications per day.
  • The government has created a single portal for information about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit at www.canada.ca/coronavirus-CERB which is now up and running.
  • Starting April 6th, Canadians who haven’t applied for EI already will be able to apply online for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). To reduce the load on the system, the government is asking people to apply based on their birth month:
  • January/Februay/March: April 6
  • April/May/June: April 7
  • July/August/September: April 8
  • October/November/December: April 9
  • Direct deposit payments will be made within 3-5 days of applying for the CERB and cheques delivered within ten days.
  • CERB recipients will need to confirm once a month that they are still without a job. Canadians who are employed and receiving the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy cannot receive the CERB. Likewise Canadians who are receiving EI cannot receive the CERB until their EI benefits run out.
PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES
  • A new Canada COVID-19 app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play. This app helps Canadians to self-diagnose symptoms related to COVID-19, provides advice to keep Canadians safe, includes information on where to call for help, updates the total number of official cases by province, and includes government announcements related to the pandemic.
  • In the coming days, Minister Hajdu will announce a new digital mental health toolkit for Canadians who are struggling during the lockdown.
  • The federal government remains focussed on procuring Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers facing shortages, as hospitals burn through their supplies to treat COVID-19 patients. They confirmed that federally-procured shipments of PPE will be delivered to Quebec and Ontario in the coming days, where hospitalizations are most acute.
  • Canada currently has no plans to compel businesses to produce materials via the Defense Production Act, as industry has stepped up to volunteer to help manufacture whatever they can.
  • Officials continue to maintain that masks should be prioritized for health care workers, but conceded that if Canadians want to make and wear their own masks, that is their decision.
Media continue to press the government on a timeline for the current restrictions. The Prime Minister confirmed that the July timeline that has been advanced by Toronto’s medical officer of health is a realistic scenario, but emphasized that the timeline depends on the compliance of citizens with public health requirements and our collective success in flattening the curve of infection.