The Liberal government has made some commitments to extending and expanding its COVID-19 relief efforts for businesses.
The pledges came during Wednesday’s throne speech, in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government put a heavy emphasis on continuing to support Canadians during the ongoing pandemic.
Promises affecting businesses included extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to summer 2021, which was most recently extended through to November 21. At the time, there had been hints of a further extension until December 31.
The government also announced plans to launch a new fund to attract investments in zero-emissions products.
When signed into law in April, CEWS was set to keep employees on the payroll at Canadian businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers were previously subject to a 30 percent revenue decline measurement, which made them eligible for a payroll subsidy of 75 percent. Under new program criteria, businesses with any revenue decline became eligible to receive CEWS. However, rather than being a 75 percent subsidy, the amount is now based on the revenue drop.
The government also pledged an expansion of the federal employment insurance (EI) system, including a new benefit to ensure those who don’t qualify can still be supported. The promise comes after Trudeau’s government extended the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for the final time until September 26. The plan following the end of CERB includes transitioning people to EI or other newly proposed programs.
Other commitments from the speech included expanding the $40,000 small business Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program and improving the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).
The speech also called tackling the climate change crisis a “cornerstone” of the government’s plan. It committed to immediately bringing forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 climate goal, looking to legislate the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
As one part of that commitment, the federal government announced plans to launch a new fund to attract investments in zero-emissions products and cut the corporate tax rate in half for said companies in order to ensure Canada is “the most competitive jurisdiction in the world for clean technology companies.”
The climate change plans are ones that tech lobby group, the Council of Canadian Innovators, pushed for the government to address prior to the throne speech.
“Meaningful recovery should not just aim at recouping our economic losses; we should also position Canada for success in the global economy that awaits us on the other side of the pandemic,” said Benjamin Bergen, executive director of CCI. “We were pleased to see a commitment to supporting Canadian businesses and driving the economic recovery through clean growth technologies”
“The government’s commitment to start a new fund to support zero-emissions products is promising, but Canada must ensure that we have a strategy to own more of our clean technology innovations so that we can create economic gains and good jobs here at home,” he added.
Image source Justin Trudeau Flickr account