Updates to Federal Government COVID-19 Relief Programs
Temporary Foreign Workers
On April 13, 2020 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced $50 million to help farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers, put in place the measures necessary to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad. This announcement has been met with mixed reviews from industry since all agricultural sectors are not equal in their dependence on Temporary Foreign Workers or the priority that has been put on this by government. Several thousand workers have arrived to Canada with more on the way.
Meanwhile, the Alberta government continues to promote its’ Agriculture Job Connector program. as reported in our last update, to match Agricultural employees with a growing unemployed work-force in Alberta.
PEI Senator Diane Griffin has been urging the government to allow laid-off Canadians to work on farms and in food-processing plants without losing their employment insurance or their Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit or for those who don’t qualify for those benefits (students and seniors) she has suggested paying them a grant equivalent to the $2000 monthly CERB payment, to incentivize workers to consider agricultural positions.
Changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) announced
Changes to the payroll requirement for the Canadian Emergency Business account eligibility threshold was changed on April 16, 2020 to allow companies who spent between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019 to be eligible for the CEBA. This is a reduction from $50,000.
The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. Through EDC, the program will provide Canadian financial institutions with additional funding to support micro enterprises. This program will roll out in mid-April, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.
Additional Details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. This subsidy would now be available to eligible employers that see a drop of at least 15 per cent of their revenue in March 2020 and 30 per cent for the following months (see Eligible Periods). In applying for the subsidy, employers would be required to attest to the decline in revenue.
The Government of Canada also announced that all employers would be allowed to calculate their change in revenue using an alternative benchmark to determine their eligibility.
Temporary Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program
On April 8, the Prime Minister announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program that will help employers hire young Canadians aged between 15 and 30 years during the summer. Employers can receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee. For more information, please contact your Member of Parliament.
Questions remain as to whether this could apply to members of a farm family and if changes will only apply to those who have submitted applications already.