November 30, 2020

Canada bolsters COVID-19-related support for communities and businesses, $100B economic stimulus program

 The Canadian government has tabled its fall economic statement aimed at fighting COVID-19 and protecting the health, jobs and economy of the country with up to $100 billion in stimulus spending over the next three years.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who tabled Supporting Canadians and Fighting COVID-19: Fall Economic Statement 2020 this afternoon in the House of Commons, said total federal pandemic support to date includes $322 billion in direct measures to fight the virus and help people; and $85 billion in tax and duty deferrals.

The support is the largest economic relief package for Canada since the Second World War, the minister noted in her speech.

The fiscal update also projects the deficit will reach $381.6 billion by the end of March 2021, and could climb even higher as a result of the pandemic.

Overall, Department of Finance analysis indicates that direct support measures are expected to result in economic activity being 4.6 per cent higher in 2020 and 4.4 per cent higher in 2021 compared to a scenario without support measures.

Highlights for businesses:

  • The government will increase the maximum subsidy rate under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to 75 per cent for the period beginning December 20, 2020 and extend this rate until March 13, 2021, to provide greater certainty to employers.
  • It is extending the current subsidy rates of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy. This means a base subsidy rate of up to 65 per cent will be available on eligible expenses until March 13, 2021.
  • The government will extend the rate of 25 per cent for Lockdown Support until March 13, 2021. This is in addition to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy base subsidy, which means hard-hit businesses can receive up to 90 per cent support for rent.
  • The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will soon be expanded, allowing qualifying businesses to access an additional interest-free $20,000 loan, in situations where there is need. Half of this additional amount, up to $10,000, would be forgivable if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022.

Infrastructure-related highlights:

The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s Growth Plan

  • $10-billion Growth Plan, announced in October. This includes $2.5 billion for clean power; $2 billion to connect about 750,000 homes and small businesses to broadband in underserved communities; $2 billion to invest in large-scale building retrofits; $1.5 billion for agriculture irrigation projects; and $1.5 billion to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission buses and associated charging infrastructure. To accelerate the delivery of projects in which the CIB intends to invest, the plan will also allocate $500 million for project development and early construction works.

Indigenous Communities

  • $1.5 billion starting in 2020-21, and $114.1 million per year ongoing thereafter to accelerate work to lift all long-term drinking water advisories and stabilize funding for water and wastewater infrastructure, including operation and maintenance costs, in First Nations communities.
  • $25.9 million in 2020-21 to accelerate the government’s 10-year commitment to close the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities by supporting the co-development of infrastructure plans with Indigenous partners, which will help pave the way to address critical needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation communities.
  • $1.8 billion over seven years, starting in 2021-22, directed to support community infrastructure priorities.

Public Transit

  • The government will outline its next steps on public transit, including its plan to help electrify public transit systems across Canada, and provide permanent public transit funding, in partnership with the provinces and territories.


  • $500 million over six years, starting in 2020-21, to establish a new transfer payment program for large airports to invest in safety, security and transit infrastructure. Transit projects at large airports, such as the new Réseau express métropolitain (REM) station at the Montreal Airport, will be eligible for funding.
  • $229 million in additional rent relief to the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to the federal government, with comparable treatment for Ports Toronto, which operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
  • $65 million in additional financial support to airport authorities in 2021-22 to manage the financial implications of reduced air travel.

Zero-emission Vehicle Infrastructure

  • $150 million over 3 years to Natural Resources Canada, starting in 2021-22, for zero-emission vehicle infrastructure that will help increase confidence that charging and refuelling stations are available and conveniently located where and when they are needed.

Ventilation in Public Buildings

  • $150 million over three years, starting in 2020-21, to Infrastructure Canada to improve ventilation in public buildings and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This will help provincial, territorial, municipal and local governments and Indigenous communities fund projects that increase air quality and circulation, such as upgrades or conversions of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. More details on this measure will be announced in the coming months.

Green Bonds

  • The federal government intends to issues its first-ever green bond in 2021-22. The government will continue to assess options on the appropriate structure for a federal green bond issuance and will provide more information in the context of the 2021-22 Debt Management Strategy, which will be presented in Budget 2021.

Sustainable Finance Action Council

  • $7.3 million over three years to create a public-private Sustainable Finance Action Council to ensure the stability and long-term growth of our financial system in the face of climate change.

The full fall 2020 federal economic statement can be found here.