December 22, 2021

-Global News


The government is expanding eligibility for its Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit amid new Omicron-related COVID-19 restrictions, allowing any worker to apply for the support if their workplace has been slapped with capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more.

The announcement comes after provinces across the country have hit bars, restaurants and other workplaces with new restrictions — but no lockdowns — to try to contain the spread of the Omicron variant. Last Thursday, there were more than 43,000 active COVID-19 cases across Canada. Just six days later, there are more than 72,000.

“We’re temporarily expanding eligibility for key programs. For the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and the Local Lockdown program, you will be able to apply if you’re subject to capacity-limiting restrictions,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.

“Here’s the bottom line: we need, all of us, (to) do what it takes so Canadians are protected and to have what you need to weather the storm.”

Eligible workers can receive $300 — $270 after taxes — for each one-week period until May 7, 2022. The expanded eligibility, however, only applies until Feb. 12, 2022.

To get the benefit, you’ll also need to have lost 50 per cent or more of your income as a result of these capacity limits, according to the government.

Before the announcement, the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit only applied to regions where a COVID-19 lockdown order had been designated. According to the government of Canada’s website, however, no regions in Canada meet the criteria right now — which meant that applications were “not available.”

Bill C-2, which brought this new benefit to life, became law last Friday. The benefit is the government’s latest temporary income support for Canadians who can’t work because of the pandemic. It follows past programs like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

The government’s website says the “easiest way” to apply for the CWLB is online, through “CRA My Account.”

Businesses are also going to get a boost in their COVID-19 supports, the government announced on Wednesday. The Local Lockdown Program will also expand to include any employers that are subject to restrictions that cap their capacity at 50 per cent or more.

Employers that are eligible for this program will receive wage and rent subsidies that can range from 25 per cent to a maximum of 75 per cent, depending on how much revenue they lost as a result of the capacity limits.