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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Ottawa unveils vaccination passport, targeted financial supports for businesses and workers

Thursday, October 21, 2021 @ 5:32 PM | By Cristin Schmitz

Ottawa has announced the creation of a new Canadian proof of vaccination document for domestic and international travel, along with the creation of narrower, targeted COVID-19 financial supports for workers and businesses to follow the Oct. 23 expiry for most sectors of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland made the companion announcements during a media availability in Ottawa Oct. 21 where they said Canada is on the road to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic — but that some beleaguered parts of the country and economy still need financial support.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Trudeau announced that, in collaboration with provinces and territories, a standardized Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination is now available digitally or on paper to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon. It will be available in all the other provinces in time for the bump in travel in December, he advised.

“We are very confident that this proof of vaccination certificate that will be federally approved, issued by the provinces with the health information for Canadians, is going to be accepted at destinations worldwide as proof of vaccination,” Trudeau told reporters.

The government said Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination provides Canadians “a reliable and secure way to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination history, both in Canada and abroad.” The proof of vaccination can be used with ArriveCAN, the mobile app and website for travellers to submit mandatory information when arriving in Canada from other countries.

The standardized proof will support new traveller vaccination requirements in Canada that will come into effect on Oct. 30, 2021. Travellers can continue to use their provincial proof of vaccination for domestic or international travel if their province is not yet issuing the standardized proof of vaccination.

Affirming that existing COVID-19 income and business support programs such as CEWS and CERS will end for most sectors on Oct. 23, 2021, as was previously announced, Freeland told reporters the proposed more targeted measures will give help where it’s still needed, while prudently managing government spending.

Freeland said the government is proposing to:
  • Extend the existing Canada Recovery Hiring Program, which is set to expire Nov. 20, 2021, until May 7, 2022, for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10 per cent, and increase the subsidy rate to 50 per cent. The extension aims to help businesses continue to hire back workers and to create the additional jobs.
  • Create two new kinds of targeted support to businesses that are still facing significant pandemic-related challenges. A new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program would provide support through the wage and rent subsidy programs, to hotels, tour operators, travel agencies and restaurants, with a subsidy rate of up to 75 per cent. The new “Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program,” which would also provide support through the wage and rent subsidy programs, will support other kinds of businesses that can show deep losses, with a subsidy rate of up to 50 per cent.

Government backgrounders indicate that applicants for these programs will use a new “two-key” eligibility system whereby they will need to demonstrate significant revenue losses over the course of 12 months of the pandemic, as well as revenue losses in the current month.

Businesses that face temporary new local lockdowns will be eligible for up to the maximum amount of the wage and rent subsidy programs, during the local lockdown, regardless of their losses over the course of the pandemic.

The government said the programs will be available until May 7, 2022, with the proposed subsidy rates available through to March 13, 2022. From March 13, 2022, to May 7, 2022, the subsidy rates will decrease by half.

The government said it is using its authority under the 2021 Budget Implementation Act, which enables it to extend the wage subsidy, rent subsidy and Lockdown Support to Nov. 20, 2021, to provide tourism, hospitality and other hard-hit organizations with support until Nov. 20, 2021, under the new programs.

It will then introduce legislation “as soon as possible” to extend these programs past Nov. 20, 2021, until May 7, 2022, with authority for further amendments through regulations until July 2, 2022.

Further, to ensure that “no one is left behind,” the government proposes that for individual workers it will:
  • Extend the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit until May 7, 2022, and increase the maximum duration of benefits to 44 from 42 weeks and the sickness benefit to six weeks from four weeks.  
  • Establish the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit which would provide $300 a week in income support to eligible workers if they are unable to work, due to a local lockdown, anytime between Oct. 24, 2021, and May 7, 2022.

The government proposes to introduce legislation to create the new benefit which would be “strictly available to workers whose work interruption is a direct result of a government-imposed public health lockdown. It would be available until May 7, 2022, with retroactive application to Oct. 24, 2021, “should the situation warrant it.” 

Those whose loss of income or employment is due to their refusal to adhere to a vaccine mandate would not be able to access the benefit. The government said it will provide further details “in the coming weeks.”

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