Budget 2021 may offer firms COVID-19 supports: Canadian Bar Association

Association identifies initiatives for small businesses that legal workplaces may access

Budget 2021 may offer firms COVID-19 supports: Canadian Bar Association

Canada’s budget for 2021, released on Apr. 19 by Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and federal finance minister, proposes to extend certain subsidies and benefits which may be available to firms meeting the criteria, the Canadian Bar Association has said.

The federal government expects to substantially complete the vaccine rollout and to see the Canadian economy back in business by fall. The federal budget mentions emergency federal funding for businesses that eligible firms and other legal workplaces may access, said the Canadian Bar Association’s news release dated Apr. 26.

One budgetary proposal is the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support until Sept. 25, with the wage subsidy gradually decreasing beginning July 4. However, the government will consider asking for approval to extend the wage subsidy until Nov. 20 if necessary, for example, if the public health situation has not improved by September.

The federal budget introduces the Canada Recovery Hiring Program, valued at $595 million, which seeks to provide an alternative support for Canadian-controlled private corporations, individuals, charities and non-profit organizations which still qualify for the wage subsidy. The program, which is projected to run from June until Nov. 20, will allow eligible employers to claim whichever is higher between the wage subsidy and the new proposed subsidy, and will offset a portion of the extra costs of employers upon reopening, either by increasing wages or hours worked or by hiring more employees.

The federal government plans to penalize publicly listed corporations that accept the wage subsidy but raise executive compensation over the amount paid in 2019 by compelling such corporations to repay wage subsidies received from June 5 until the program concludes.

The federal budget also proposes to extend the availability of the employment insurance sickness benefits to 26 weeks from 15 weeks, as well as the application of income supports like the Canada Recovery Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, which eligible self-employed individuals may access, the bar association noted.

The bar association identified other proposed supports for small businesses, which are not COVID-19-related but which may potentially be available to firms. The new Canada Digital Adoption Program aims to help more than 160,000 businesses adopt new technologies, with 28,000 young Canadians trained to work with such businesses as they make these changes, according to the federal government’s news release.

The government also plans to permit small businesses to fully expense up to $1.5 million in capital investments in a wide array of assets, such as digital technology and intellectual property, and to support women, Black individuals and other underrepresented entrepreneurs who encounter barriers to establishing and owning businesses, via a $300-million investment to advance the Black Entrepreneurship Program, the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy and similar initiatives.

“This budget is about finishing the fight against COVID-19,” said Freeland in a news release, and aims to generate jobs and to promote prosperity for Canadians, she added.

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