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Canada: Liberals table COVID-19 aid bill with targeted supports to businesses, workers

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a woman standing in front of a curtain: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland arrives for a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. © THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland arrives for a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa.

The Liberals have tabled a long awaited aid bill aimed at giving targeted supports to businesses still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland announced the introduction of Bill C-2.

According to a news release, the bill would extend previously announced programs as well as "deliver targeted support" to businesses and workers facing pandemic-related challenges.

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Freeland previously released broad details of the plan to offer targeted supports to workers and businesses after the Liberals phased out several pandemic-era benefits like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) at the end of October.

On Wednesday however, Freeland unveiled further details on the bill.

"As our recovery has begun to take hold, we have moved past the darkest days of the pandemic to a new phase," said Freeland in a news release.

First, as was announced back in October, the Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CHRP) would be extended until May 7, 2022 and be available for employers with a more than 10 per cent loss in current revenue.

Liberals introduce bill with targeted pandemic aid for businesses, workers

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Under the CHRP, three programs would be available to help with wage and rent support for Canadian businesses -- the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) and Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) and the Local Lockdown Program (LLP).

The THRP and HHBRP had already gone into effect in late October as a replacement for the older, phased out COVID-19 support programs.

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According to the press release, the new Local Lockdown Program would "provide businesses that face temporary new local lockdowns up to the maximum amount available through the wage and rent subsidy programs."

The bill also proposes to extend the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recover Sickness Benefit until May 7, 2022, and to increase the maximum duration of those benefits by another two weeks.

Ottawa tables legislation to begin 'last step' of Canada's COVID-19 support programs

  Ottawa tables legislation to begin 'last step' of Canada's COVID-19 support programs In one of its first acts since the return of Parliament, the federal government has tabled legislation to create a suite of new, more selective pandemic support programs. The Liberal government says the change represents a more targeted approach to economic recovery that will carry Canada through the next phase of pandemic. "I see this legislation as very much the last step in our COVID support programs," said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland during a Wednesday evening news conference. "It is what I really hope and truly believe is the final pivot.

As was announced in October as well, the bill also looks to establish the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB), which looks to give targeted support to workers impacted by a COVID-19-related public health lockdown.

The benefit would give up to $300 a week in income support to eligible workers, would be able to receive it retroactively from October 24, 2021 and would be available for use until May 7, 2022.

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"With today’s legislation, we are pivoting to what we hope will be the final stage of recovery. I hope Parliament will pass this legislation expeditiously so that Canadians can get the support they need and without undue delay," said Freeland.

The Liberals had estimated then that creating new, targeted benefits through May would cost around $8 billion and that they would need parliamentary approval in the form of a bill in order to spend the money.

More to come...

With files from the Canadian Press and Global News' Twinkle Ghosh

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