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Ottawa Introduces New Pandemic Relief Programs To Support Businesses

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The federal government in Ottawa is letting current pandemic relief programs for businesses and individuals expire on October 23 and replacing them with a new benefit aimed at helping those whose work continues to be impacted by COVID-19.

Despite widespread calls to extend it, Ottawa is letting the "Canada Recovery Benefit" (CRB) expire on Saturday. At a news conference, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the "Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit" will go into effect on October 24.

The benefit will provide $300 a week to workers who are subject to a pandemic-related lockdown.

Freeland said the government is taking out "insurance" by creating the new support program in the event of local lockdowns in the future, and that those who are affected by those lockdowns would be able to tap the subsidy program up to the maximum amount for the duration of the lockdown.

Freeland said all business and income support programs scheduled to expire on October 23 will not be extended.

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Freeland also announced a new "Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program" that will provide support via rent and wage subsidies, starting at a rate of 10% for applicants who show their revenue has been cut in half; the subsidy would rise to 50% for revenue losses of 75%.

She added that eligibility will be based an employer’s revenue loss over the course of 12 months of the pandemic. The other eligibility factor will be revenue loss in the current month. The support will be available from October 24 until May 7.

In addition, the government is launching a "Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program" dedicated to certain industries that are facing hardship as a result of the pandemic and continuing public health restrictions, including restaurants, bars, hotels, and travel agencies.

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