New $7.4 billion bill to give companies, workers extra cash

Retrospective cash, wage and rent subsidies, hiring credits all on offer

New $7.4 billion bill to give companies, workers extra cash

A new aid package worth $7.4 billion has been introduced by Trudeau’s Liberals, which seeks to extend aid to businesses and workers that have been severely impacted by pandemic-related restrictions. Lockdowns will be decided by the Cabinet and will effectively close businesses and place workers at home for at least 14 days. The legislation seeks to give $300 to workers who will be off from work as a result of said restrictions. Unvaccinated staff, however, will not be eligible said benefits.

CBC reported that the aid will last until May 2022 and is also retroactive to October 24, which was around the time when pandemic benefits to unemployed workers ceased taking effect. Meanwhile, severely hit businesses would also be granted wage and rent subsidies as high as 75% - as long they’re able to prove they suffered from prolonged revenue loss. These businesses include "hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, and restaurants."

The government said they plan to extend the hiring credit for companies until May, by boosting wages, rehiring staff, or new hires, according to a report from the Globe and Mail, adding that companies will not have to have had a massive loss in revenue to be eligible. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland described the legislation as the "last step" in the government's COVID support programmes.

Read more: COVID-19 relief bill receives Royal Assent

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce expressed support for the proposed aid.

"We are very pleased that legislation extending crucial business support programmes for the hardest-hit sectors was priority number one for the government in this new Parliament," added spokesperson Alla Drigola Birk. "We urge all parties to work together to pass the legislation as quickly as possible to ensure that severely impacted SMEs continue to receive necessary support without interruption."

The bill was filed on Wednesday at the House of Commons and the government hopes it could get passed before the middle of December. However, it could face some opposition from the New Democratic Party, which said it’ll not be supporting the legislation if the government will not reverse its drop on income-tested benefits for low-income seniors and families.

"While the Liberals let big corporations off the hook, they're clawing back benefits from low-income seniors & families," said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a tweet.

The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois, however, both hinted that they would be supporting the bill.

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