Canadians who continue to be unemployed by COVID-19 are eligible for up to $8,400 in federal aid, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

But it could be the last federal money they get.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on Friday expanded application rules at an undisclosed cost.

Cabinet designated as “lockdown regions” all provinces and territories but Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Benefits were “now in effect” for impacted workers in all other provinces and Nunavut representing 97% of the national workforce, it said.

“For workers, our decision means if you are working in a region where the provincial or territorial government has introduced capacity restrictions of 50 percent or more and if you have lost 50 percent or more of your income as a direct result of those restrictions you can qualify for the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit,” Freeland earlier told reporters.

The benefit pays $300 weekly retroactive to December 19. Payments are to end July 2, a maximum 28 weeks or $8,400 under Bill C-2 An Act To Provide Further Support In Response To Covid-19.

Bill C-2 also extended subsidies to locked down employers until July by cabinet order.

“What exactly does this mean? It means if you are an employer who has to reduce the capacity of your main business by 50 percent or more you will be eligible for wage and rent subsidy support through the local lockdown program,” said Freeland.

“We are lowering the revenue decline threshold from 40% to 25%.

“Eligible employers will receive wage and rent subsidy support from between 25% to up to 75% depending on how much revenue they have lost.”

The finance department originally estimated the cost of C-2 measures at $11.9 billion. No revised estimate was disclosed.

Freeland had called the bill the “last step” in emergency spending.

“I see this legislation as very much the last step in our COVID support programs,” Freeland told reporters November 24.

“It is what I really hope and truly believe is the final pivot.”

The original bill limited lockdown benefits to workers denied all income when employers were ordered closed by public health authorities. Cabinet broadened the scope to include half-capacity lockdowns after Parliament passed the bill December 17.

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