VANCOUVER (News 1130) — Many Canadian small businesses are looking at the calendar and waiting for the federal government to announce whether it will continue the financial aid programs that have helped them survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the government is looking at supporting businesses with things like rent and wage subsidies, but that the clock is ticking.
The federal government says this is the last Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) period, but it is likely to be extended until November 20. However, without an official ruling, many people who rely on a financial boost for their bottom line are deeply concerned.
CEWS pays a percentage of the salary subsidy of their employees to the eligible applicants based on their revenue loss. The government said it was created in hopes of re-hiring to help save jobs and return to normalcy.
So far, it has paid out $93 billion to 4.5 million applicants.
Another program, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), is also due to expire in the coming weeks.
The program allows Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations or charities that have seen revenue decline during this time. COVID-19 Pandemic to receive subsidies to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses.
However, the earlier deadline was put in place before the delta variant spread across the country, leading to higher COVID-19 cases and more restrictions. The return to normalcy is still far away.
Dan Kelly of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says the October 23 deadline is coming to an end.
“I expect the federal government to announce plans to increase wage subsidies until at least the end of November. But they don’t even have legislation after that,” Kelly said.
The CFIB estimates that without support, the small business sector could shut down 180,000 permanently.
With files from Mike Appel