Canada’s “lifesaving” wage and rent subsidies are gone. Here’s why non-profits and charities are worried.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) were replaced in October with programs that sector leaders say aren’t adequate.

Why It Matters

Non-profits and charities intent on supporting an equitable recovery don’t just need government handouts — they need financial stability.

Caught between a pincer of low revenues and rising service demands, as many as half of Canada’s social purpose organizations used the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) to ease the pressure. 

CEWS provided up to 50 percent of an employer’s wage costs, while CERS, intended for commercial landlords and tenants, provided up to 25 percent of rent payments. The two programs gave billions of dollars of aid to the Canadian social impact sector, according to Imagine Canada. But in October 2021, the Canadian government announced it would replace CEWS and CERS with the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) and the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program — two programs sector leaders say won’t be as generous as their predecessors. (A bill to create both programs was still working its way through Parliament as of Dec. 15). 

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