Ottawa Extends Pandemic Aid At A Cost Of $7.4 Billion

The federal Liberal government has again extended financial aid to businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation is one of four bills the government wants passed before the middle of December ahead of a scheduled winter break.

The Liberals are proposing to send $300 per week to workers who find themselves off the job because of a pandemic-related lockdown between now and spring 2022.

The bill would let cabinet decide which regions are considered in lockdown, defined as an order for businesses to close and workers to stay home for at least 14 straight days.

However, in a new change, Ottawa will block pandemic benefits for people who refuse to get vaccinated.

Payments would be retroactive to Oct. 24 when the Liberals let a pandemic-era benefit for the unemployed expire. The Canada Recovery Benefit's siblings -- sickness and caregiver benefits -- would each get revived after expiring this past weekend with two more weeks of eligibility through May 7, 2022.

Wage and rent subsidies for businesses would be more generous and targeted over that same period to the still-hurting tourism, culture and hospitality sectors, as well as a long list of establishments such as movie theatres, arcades, casinos and gyms.

All would need to prove a deep and prolonged revenue loss to qualify for the ongoing benefits.

The government also wants to extend to May a hiring credit for companies that add to their payrolls by boosting wages, rehiring laid-off workers, or new hires. The credit doesn't require as deep a revenue loss to qualify.

The minority Liberal government, which is being supported in Parliament by the socialist New Democratic Party (NDP), estimates that the extended aid package will cost $7.4 billion between now and May of next year.