Fact Check: Canada's COVID Relief Programs Do NOT Pay Everyone $900 A Week And Give A $40,000 Loan To All Small Businesses

Fact Check

  • by: Hallie Golden
Fact Check: Canada's COVID Relief Programs Do NOT Pay Everyone $900 A Week And Give A $40,000 Loan To All Small Businesses Not Everyone

Do all Canadians get $900 a week and all small businesses in Canada get a $40,000 loan, of which they only have to pay back $10,000 over five years? And did all Canadians previously receive $2,000 a month? Those claims are partially true, but they're missing context: They appear to refer to the country's response to COVID-19, but the funding amounts the government says are available due to the pandemic do not completely align with these figures and also come with an array of eligibility requirements.

The claim appeared as a meme in a post (archived here) on Facebook on December 20, 2020, under the title, "When your conservative relatives try to say we live in the greatest nation on earth just show them this". It stated:

In Canada we got $2000.00 a month for a total of $14,000.00 from march to September. Now we get $900.00 a week from September 2020- Sept 2021 for a total of $23,000.00. All small businesses got $40,000.00 as a loan to pay back over 5 years they only have to pay $10,000.00.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Dec 21 20:52:10 2020 UTC)

According to Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, there are several benefit programs for individuals now, but they are meant for those impacted by COVID-19 and many do not exceed $500 per week.

There is also a key loan program for small businesses impacted by the virus, but it's offering up to $60,000 and, if repaid by December 31, 2022, would result in only 33% of the loan, or up to $20,000, being forgiven. Previously, some Canadians were able to receive $2,000 a month if directly affected by COVID-19.

The meme's claim about Canadians previously receiving $2,000 a month, appears to be a reference to a program called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). At the time of this writing, the benefit's status was "closed," but previously provided $2,000 for a 4-week period to "employed and self-employed Canadians who are directly affected by COVID-19," according to the Canadian government web page about the program.

A press release by the Department of Finance Canada on March 25, 2020, introduced the program, saying:

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB.

Today, there are several benefit programs available to individuals in Canada, but they are meant for those specifically impacted by COVID-19 and many do not exceed $500 per week, according to the Canadian government web page, Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which details the many programs available to individuals and businesses.

The Canada Recovery Benefit offers $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for employees who have seen their income cut by at least 50% or have had to stop working altogether due to COVID, while the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit provides $500 per week for up to two weeks for those who aren't able to work for most of the week for health reasons directly linked to COVID-19. The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit also offers $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for workers unable to work for at least 50% of the week due to the following reasons:

  • because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19
  • because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine or is at high risk of serious health implications because of COVID-19.

Also included in the web page's list of programs for those facing hardship due to COVID-19 is the Employment Insurance (EI) program, which as of September 27, 2020, provides a minimum of $500 per week for Canadians who need the assistance.

The small-business loan program the meme appears to be referring to is the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which, as of December 4, 2020, is providing up to $60,000 in loans for small businesses and not-for-profits, according to the Government of Canada's website. But these loans are only available to those entities that "have experienced diminished revenues due to COVID-19 but face ongoing non-deferrable costs, such as rent, utilities, insurance, taxes and wages." These are interest-free loans that if repaid by December 31, 2022 result in only 33% of the loan, or up to $20,000, being forgiven.

In contrast, in the spring, most adults in the United States were sent stimulus checks of $1,200, and could receive a second check of $600 in the coming days. The country is also offering varying amounts of funding through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for those who "suffered working capital losses due to the coronavirus pandemic," but they come with interest rates and are not forgivable.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Hallie Golden

Hallie Golden is a fact checker at Lead Stories and a freelance journalist based in Seattle. Her articles have been published in such places as The Guardian, The New York Times and Bloomberg CityLab.  She previously worked as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Philadelphia, Pa

Read more about or contact Hallie Golden

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