The federal government has opened applications for a new subsidy aimed at helping employers hire or rehire staff as public health measures are eased and more businesses reopen.
The Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) was first announced back in April as part of the government’s 2021 budget, but the budget bill needed to pass before the program could be launched. The budget estimates the program will cost $595 million.
The subsidy covers up to 50 percent of extra salary costs eligible businesses take on as of June 6, including costs associated with hiring new staff or increasing shifts. Charities and non-profit organizations also qualify.
Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the subsidy will help the small businesses that qualify — but some businesses will be left out.
“It will scratch the itch of a lot of businesses as they move from lockdown to recovery, but it’s not going to help those new businesses that are still cut out,” he said.
In order to receive the hiring subsidy, a business needs to have qualified for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) — meaning they would have experienced a loss in revenue due to the pandemic.
Kelly said the eligibility criteria leave out new businesses that tried to open during the pandemic — or opened just before it hit — and are still struggling.
“We’re making the same mistakes with this new program as we made with the old programs,” he said.
Businesses can apply for CEWS and CRHP simultaneously, but will only receive payments from the program that offers the higher dollar value.
But the wage subsidy will be phased out by September along with other business supports, such as the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS).
Kelly said he worries those programs are being wound down too quickly. He pointed out that some businesses in provinces like Ontario still aren’t able to fully open.
As it stands, the new hiring subsidy program will run until November.
Money for the CRHP will start to be sent out next Monday, and businesses can apply until the end of December 20 to cover extra salary costs related to the period from June 6 to November 20.
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