Premier Doug Ford told reporters that when he got the news last night that the sharp rise in new cases of COVID would mean restrictions that would hurt the hospitality industry he got on the phone to finance minister Chrystia Freeland top ask for help. By this morning the federal government had announced financial support measures aimed ay easing the impact of the 28-day shutdown on indoor service in bars and restaurants.
The government announced a new rent subsidy program that will send the cheques directly to businesses. The old program, which was meant to ease the pressure on businesses hit by the pandemic by covering a portion of their rent, expired last month. It was roundly criticized by businesses because tapping into the program depended on buy-in from landlords, who were under no obligation to participate.
The new rent subsidy will support businesses, charities and non-profits that have suffered revenue drops by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses, until Dec. 19. In addition there will be a “top-up” emergency rent subsidy of 25 per cent, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy, will be available to organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order.
In addition, there has been a change in the wage subsidy program announced in the throne speech. It will be extended to next summer and the subsidy will freeze at the current rate of up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible wages until Dec.19, and will not decrease on a sliding scale as previously planned.
At his news conference today, Premier Doug Ford thanks the federal government for moving quickly to improve the support package and he talked about the difficulty he had in approving restrictions that he knew would be devastating to the hospitality industry.