The 2021 federal budget released yesterday outlines a $12 billion plan to extend key COVID-19 business programs and commits to continue other income support measures while planning for the reopening of society and international borders.

The government is also planning to extend the federal wage and rent subsidies and lockdown supports. Originally set to expire in June, the supports will now be available through September, as well the Canada Recovery Benefit aimed at people who aren’t covered by employment insurance (EI), though the $500-a-week support will drop to $300 per week after July 17.

Billions more is being earmarked to support affected workers though a range of steps, including a series of changes to the EI program, which includes extending the EI sickness benefit from 15 to 26 weeks and continuing to offer COVID-19-prompted caregiving supports in the short-term.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) & Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

The 2021 Federal budget proposes the extension of the wage and rent subsidies until September 25, 2021, with potential until November 20, 2021. It also proposes to gradually decrease the subsidy rate, beginning July 4, 2021, in order to ensure an orderly phase out in tandem with vaccinations.

The general consensus in the entertainment, tourism and hospitality industries is that while we welcome this news, the extension doesn’t go far enough to support industries that have barely reopened and may not be fully open by November. The CGA has been advocating for an extension to at least end of 2021, and we will continue to work to ensure our industry receives continued support.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

$500 million Tourism Relief Fund, administered by the regional development agencies to support investments by local tourism businesses in adapting to the pandemic.

$200 million through the regional development agencies to support major festivals and $200 million through Canadian Heritage to support local festivals, community cultural events, outdoor theatre performances, heritage celebrations, local museums, amateur sport events, and more.

Extension of the application deadline for similar support under the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund and the Indigenous Business Initiative until June 30, 2021. Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $80 million in 2021-22 on a cash basis, for the regional development agencies, and to shift remaining funds under the Indigenous Business Initiative into 2021-22, to support an extended application deadline for the RRRF and Indigenous Business Initiative until June 30, 2021. This would support small businesses in rural communities so that they can continue to serve local populations.