People in Canada who are impacted by local measures aimed at curbing the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant will have to wait until 2022 to apply for recently expanded financial support.
The federal government announced Wednesday that employees in regions where governments have introduced capacity restrictions of 50 per cent or more are eligible for the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit if they've lost more than half their income. The expansion opened eligibility for the $300-per-week program to more Canadians.
However, "workers in regions covered under the temporary measures should expect to be able to apply early in the new year," a spokesperson for Employment and Social Development Canada told CBC News on Friday.
"Eligible workers will have up to 60 days from the end of the period for which they are applying to make an application. Retroactive payments will be issued in a timely manner."
Capacity restrictions are part of new measures imposed recently in several provinces in response to rapidly rising COVID-19 infections. Canada reported more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time on Thursday.
Expanded eligibility expected to cost $4B
On Wednesday, the country's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said urgent action is needed to curb the spread of Omicron, now the dominant strain of coronavirus in several provinces.
The same day, the federal government said it's expanding eligibility for the Local Lockdown Program. Employers subject to capacity restrictions of 50 per cent or more and face current-month declines in revenue of at least 25 per cent are eligible to apply for the program, which grants wage subsidies from 25 to 75 per cent depending on revenue loss.
The expanded eligibility is expected to cost $4 billion, the government said in a release. The new regulations will apply retroactively to Dec. 19 and last until Feb. 12.
CBC News reached out to the federal government about when the Local Lockdown Program would open to newly eligible applicants, but had not received a response as of publication.