Latest Developments in the Canadian Economic Accounts
An analysis of Canadian business support programs in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic

Release date: January 19, 2023

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Acknowledgements

This work would not have been possible without the invaluable contributions and expertise of innumerable dedicated staff from Statistics Canada including Amanda Sinclair, Andreas Trau, Brandon Murray, Brenda Bugge, Carolina Cabañas-Leòn, Danielle Lafontaine-Sorgo, Dave Krochmalnek, Dave Stiles, Dovile Séguin, Jason Fu, Jennifer Withington, Jonathan Aikens, Joycelyn Francisco, Mingyu Yu, Monique Deschambault, Nathalie Bisson, Peter Cordeiro, Pierre-Louis Venne, Robert Campbell, Simon Bourassa-Viau, Stephen West, Steven Miscione, Tasmin Pan, and Xiang Zhou. Additional thanks to those who provided invaluable feedback and suggestions.

Introduction

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared a pandemic related to the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the resultant and accelerating progression of COVID-19, the concomitant disease, across the globeNote . This event caused, and continues to cause, significant disruptions in people’s health and way of life, the global economy, and the financial system. Like other countries, Canada was greatly affected by this event, as all levels of government enacted a range of public health measures including lockdowns and other restrictions meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ease the strain on the healthcare system. These led to significant, but predictable impacts on the economy including a steep rise in unemploymentNote , a drastic drop in revenues and output among many industriesNote , and an overall disruption to economic activity including consumer expenditures on many goods and services. Compared with the great recession and global financial crisis that affected the Canadian economy starting in late 2008, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a more acute impact akin to a natural disaster. During the global financial crisis, real gross domestic product (GDP) fell 2.3% in the first quarter of 2009 whereas in the second quarter of 2020 GDP contracted 10.9% (Chart 1). The economic rebound in the COVID-19 era was also noticeably sharper. By the end of 2021, real GDP had reached its pre-pandemic level with the easing of restrictions and the pickup in consumer demand. Labour markets largely recovered as the participation rate nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels (Chart 2). However, new challenges to economic expansion arose in the form of rising and persistent inflation, conflict induced commodity disruptions, and supply-chain instabilities.

Chart 1

Data table for Chart 1 
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1 Real GDP (chained dollars, seasonally adjusted, left axis), Quarterly GDP growth (seasonally adjusted, right axis) and Unemployment rate (unadjusted, right axis), calculated using billions, $CAD and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Real GDP (chained dollars, seasonally adjusted, left axis) Quarterly GDP growth (seasonally adjusted, right axis) Unemployment rate (unadjusted, right axis)
billions, $CAD percent
2000
Q1 1,426.8 1.6 7.3
Q2 1,443.8 1.2 6.7
Q3 1,458.5 1.0 6.8
Q4 1,461.0 0.2 6.4
2001
Q1 1,468.7 0.5 7.5
Q2 1,472.7 0.3 7.1
Q3 1,471.7 -0.1 7.1
Q4 1,480.6 0.6 7.1
2002
Q1 1,502.6 1.5 8.5
Q2 1,511.5 0.6 7.7
Q3 1,524.6 0.9 7.5
Q4 1,532.9 0.5 7.0
2003
Q1 1,541.4 0.6 7.9
Q2 1,539.1 -0.1 7.7
Q3 1,544.9 0.4 7.7
Q4 1,555.5 0.7 7.0
2004
Q1 1,566.7 0.7 7.8
Q2 1,585.3 1.2 7.2
Q3 1,604.1 1.2 7.1
Q4 1,615.6 0.7 6.7
2005
Q1 1,621.2 0.3 7.4
Q2 1,632.9 0.7 6.8
Q3 1,652.7 1.2 6.8
Q4 1,669.1 1.0 6.1
2006
Q1 1,682.6 0.8 6.9
Q2 1,683.5 0.1 6.2
Q3 1,688.2 0.3 6.5
Q4 1,694.9 0.4 5.8
2007
Q1 1,705.7 0.6 6.6
Q2 1,722.3 1.0 6.1
Q3 1,729.5 0.4 6.0
Q4 1,731.5 0.1 5.5
2008
Q1 1,732.8 0.1 6.4
Q2 1,739.1 0.4 6.1
Q3 1,753.3 0.8 6.2
Q4 1,733.0 -1.2 6.1
2009
Q1 1,693.8 -2.3 8.4
Q2 1,675.3 -1.1 8.6
Q3 1,682.9 0.4 8.6
Q4 1,702.5 1.2 7.9
2010
Q1 1,723.0 1.2 8.9
Q2 1,732.1 0.5 8.2
Q3 1,744.3 0.7 8.2
Q4 1,763.8 1.1 7.2
2011
Q1 1,777.1 0.8 8.2
Q2 1,780.6 0.2 7.6
Q3 1,805.2 1.4 7.5
Q4 1,819.4 0.8 7.0
2012
Q1 1,820.6 0.1 7.9
Q2 1,826.5 0.3 7.3
Q3 1,829.0 0.1 7.3
Q4 1,832.8 0.2 6.8
2013
Q1 1,849.2 0.9 7.6
Q2 1,859.9 0.6 7.1
Q3 1,875.1 0.8 7.2
Q4 1,894.8 1.1 6.6
2014
Q1 1,897.9 0.2 7.5
Q2 1,915.2 0.9 7.1
Q3 1,933.6 1.0 7.0
Q4 1,947.0 0.7 6.2
2015
Q1 1,936.3 -0.5 7.2
Q2 1,931.0 -0.3 6.9
Q3 1,937.8 0.4 7.1
Q4 1,939.3 0.1 6.5
2016
Q1 1,949.9 0.5 7.7
Q2 1,940.3 -0.5 7.0
Q3 1,960.3 1.0 7.1
Q4 1,971.4 0.6 6.4
2017
Q1 1,992.8 1.1 7.2
Q2 2,013.2 1.0 6.5
Q3 2,021.7 0.4 6.4
Q4 2,032.1 0.5 5.5
2018
Q1 2,049.9 0.9 6.3
Q2 2,066.0 0.8 6.0
Q3 2,080.3 0.7 6.1
Q4 2,087.4 0.3 5.3
2019
Q1 2,088.8 0.1 6.2
Q2 2,109.5 1.0 5.6
Q3 2,117.4 0.4 5.8
Q4 2,124.3 0.3 5.3
2020
Q1 2,079.1 -2.1 6.8
Q2 1,851.9 -10.9 13.1
Q3 2,018.9 9.0 10.3
Q4 2,061.9 2.1 8.1
2021
Q1 2,088.9 1.3 8.8
Q2 2,076.6 -0.6 8.1
Q3 2,106.3 1.4 7.3
Q4 2,141.5 1.7 5.7
2022
Q1 2,156.1 0.7 6.1
Q2 2,173.2 0.8 5.1
Q3 2,189.1 0.7 5.3

Chart 2

Data table for Chart 2 
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2 Average, 2015 to 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Average, 2015 to 2019 2020 2021 2022
percent
January 64.7 64.5 63.8 64.0
February 64.8 64.7 64.0 64.5
March 64.9 62.8 64.5 64.7
April 65.1 59.6 64.4 64.8
May 66.3 62.1 65.3 65.9
June 66.6 64.9 66.1 66.0
July 66.6 65.5 66.3 65.9
August 66.8 66.0 66.4 66.0
September 65.4 64.9 65.4 64.6
October 65.4 64.9 65.1 64.8
November 65.2 64.7 65.0 64.5
December 65.0 64.3 64.7 Note ...: not applicable

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the word implemented policies, both fiscal and monetary, and launched support programs meant to blunt the economic and financial distress created by the pandemic and associated health measures. These efforts were unprecedented in both their size and swiftness, with significant amounts of funds distributed from government coffers within weeks of the WHO declaration. In Canada, the federal government announced numerous financial support measures over the course of 2020, with new programs coming online in 2021 as successors to previously phased out initiatives and more targeted interventions as the situation continued to evolve. These programs served both households and businesses with some supports directly funded and administered by the federal government while others were funded by the federal government but administered by federal government business enterprisesNote .

The Canadian COVID-19 Business Support Measures database

This introductory paper will focus on specific COVID-19 support programs that were available to businesses in Canada since 2020 with the objective of providing a high level, but comprehensive overview of the overall uptake of business support programs across a range of characteristics. To accomplish this, data across an array of programs has been organized in terms of structure and classifications (i.e., industry, business size) and integrated into a consistent dataset referred to as the Canadian COVID-19 Business Support Measures database (CCBSM). Results are drawn from a preliminary version of the CCBSMLE, which is based on the legal entity concept (i.e., incorporated and unincorporated businesses and partnerships) and captures information from the program applicant perspective.  As such, the CCBSMLE represents a consolidated administrative file covering claimants at the same level they would file taxes for their businessNote . For groups of corporations that comprise larger and complex enterprises, each legal entity is treated as its own unique business.  For the purposes of this paper, the term business and legal entity will be used interchangeably. The process used to allocate program amounts by industry, sector, and business size as well as the vintage of source data result in estimates that may not necessarily align with official program costs.

Table 1 provides an overview of the eight measures covered by the CCBSM, which account for the bulk of government outlays on COVID-19 business support and covers the major programs announced by the federal government. However, this list is not exhaustive, and measures enacted by other levels of government as well as smaller programs are omitted. In addition, future policies may still be adopted. As such, the CCBSM data referenced in this paper includes information updated as of November 2nd, 2022.


Table 1
Summary of business support programs found in the Canadian COVID-19 business support measures database
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 1: Summary of business support programs found in the Canadian COVID-19 business support measures database. The information is grouped by COVID-19 Measure (appearing as row headers), Brief Description (appearing as column headers).
COVID-19 Measure Brief Description
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) A subsidy for eligible businesses, charities, and non-profits covering salary, wages, certain taxable benefits, and fees/commissions.
Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) A subsidy for eligible businesses, charities, and non-profits covering salary, wages, certain taxable benefits, and fees/commissions.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) A subsidy for eligible businesses, charities, and non-profits covering 50 percent of three to six monthly rent payments for commercial property between the months of April and September 2020.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) A subsidy for eligible businesses, charities, and non-profits covering real or immovable property that does not generate primarily rental income.
Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) A combined wage and rent subsidy targeting specific sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry that continued to face difficulties due to COVID-19.
Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) A combined wage and rent subsidy targeting those businesses that continued to face significant challenges, but who did not qualify for the THRP.
Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) An interest-free loan for eligible businesses and non-profits of up to $60,000. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2023 will result in loan forgiveness of up to 33 percent (up to $20,000).
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) An interest-bearing term loan for large employers of at least $60 million. Eligible businesses were required to have significant operations in Canada or support a significant workforce in Canada.

Business supports peak at outset of pandemic

Within a month after the pandemic was officially declared, the federal government had announced and began to roll out a set of measures, some effective retroactively, to help counter the initial widespread lockdowns. The two largest of these programs were CEWS and CEBA, each accounting for roughly half of the business support funds provided in the second quarter of 2020 (Chart 3).

Chart 3

Data table for Chart 3 
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3 Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP), Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), Tourism and Hospitality Recovery and Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Programs, Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA), Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF), Lockdown Support (LS) and Total, calculated using millions $CAD units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Tourism and Hospitality Recovery and Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Programs Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) Lockdown Support (LS) Total
millions $CAD
2020
Q1 4,547 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 4,547
Q2 30,448 Note ...: not applicable 1,130 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 27,309 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 58,887
Q3 23,768 Note ...: not applicable 904 55 Note ...: not applicable 2,856 60 5 27,648
Q4 12,262 Note ...: not applicable 0 1,783 Note ...: not applicable 7,972 50 245 22,312
2021
Q1 11,730 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 1,943 Note ...: not applicable 6,685 204 390 20,952
Q2 11,712 56 Note ...: not applicable 1,839 Note ...: not applicable 2,264 1,499 380 17,750
Q3 5,798 432 Note ...: not applicable 922 Note ...: not applicable 499 725 83 8,459
Q4 415 452 Note ...: not applicable 73 1364 -615 -220 13 1,482
2022
Q1 Note ...: not applicable 266 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 1,782 -2,520 240 Note ...: not applicable -232
Q2 Note ...: not applicable 121 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 139 -830 34 Note ...: not applicable -536
Q3 Note ...: not applicable 0 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 0 -904 96 Note ...: not applicable -808

Wage subsidies served as the primary vehicle of support

Overall, from March 2020 to June 2022, wage and rent support programs totalled approximately $114 billionNote , representing 71% of the total funds provided to businesses while loans accounted for the remaining 29% ($47 billion). As the largest portion of the total measures, wage subsidiesNote accounted for 62% of funds disbursed with CEWS as the dominate contributor representing 96% of total wage subsidies (Chart 4). CEWS was the principal wage subsidy program during the first year of the pandemic in 2020 as real GDP declined 5.1% annually and the unemployment rate reached almost 10% for the year (Chart 5), peaking in the month of May at 13.4%Note . During this period many businesses scaled back production and furloughed workers. Against this backdrop, wage subsidies such as CEWS helped businesses that were significantly impacted by the pandemic to retain their workforce until economic activity resumed. Without CEWS, the unemployment rate would likely have been higher as these subsidies acted as a buffer to lessen financial hardships faced by businesses and their employees.

Chart 4

Data table for Chart 4 
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4. The information is grouped by Support Program (appearing as row headers), Wage subsidy, Loan and Rent subsidy, calculated using billions $CAD units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Support Program Wage subsidy Loan Rent subsidy
billions $CAD
CEWS 100.06 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
THRP Wage 1.92 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
CRHP 1.34 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
HHBRP Wage 0.48 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
CEBA Note ...: not applicable 43.73 Note ...: not applicable
LEEFF Note ...: not applicable 3.10 Note ...: not applicable
CERS Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 7.69
CECRA Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 2.03
THRP Rent Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 0.68
HHBRP Rent Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 0.16

In 2021, with the rising vaccination rate and the re-opening of businesses, the general economic situation improved and the pool of affected businesses and the degree to which they were affected became smaller. As the unemployment rate trended lower, business revenues recovered, and the formula and qualification criteria for determining CEWS subsidies evolvedNote , the level of wage subsidies fell by more than half from 2020 to 2021. By 2022, the employment situation across the country had recovered to pre-pandemic levels. CEWS and CERS, having ended in October 2021, were replaced by new programs, including the THRP and HHBRB, each offering wage and rent support to specific industries or more affected businesses. Together with CRHP, the number of applicant and eligible businesses for such subsidies decreased significantly at the end of 2021 and into 2022.

Chart 5

Data table for Chart 5 
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5 CEWS, CRHP, THRP Wage, HHBRP Wage, Unemployment rate and Real GDP growth, calculated using billions of dollars and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
CEWS CRHP THRP Wage HHBRP Wage Unemployment rate Real GDP growth
billions of dollars percent
2017 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 6.4 3.0
2018 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 5.9 2.8
2019 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 5.8 1.9
2020 70.58 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 9.6 -5.1
2021 29.49 0.95 0.80 0.23 7.4 5.0
2022 Note ...: not applicable 0.39 1.12 0.25 5.3 Note ...: not applicable

Wage subsidy programs were also beneficial to households, who are the primary recipients of wages and salaries. While there was significant direct support to households in the form of government transfers via the Canada Emergency Recovery Benefit (CERB) and other household support programs, wage subsidies also bolstered household incomes. CEWS-related wage subsidies accounted for over 11% of household compensation of employees during the second quarter of 2020. In this way, CEWS provided relief to both employers and employees. Business supports in general likely benefitted employees by ensuring that businesses were able to maintain staffing levels, continue operations even if partially, weather temporary financial difficulties, and more readily resume operations once the situation improved.

Chart 6

Data table for Chart 6 
Data table for Chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 6 CEWS share of total compensation of employees, Compensation of employees excluding CEWS, not seasonally adjusted and CEWS, calculated using percent and billions of dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
CEWS share of total compensation of employees Compensation of employees excluding CEWS, not seasonally adjusted CEWS
percent billions of dollars
2020
Q1 1.6 288.4 4.5
Q2 11.2 241.5 30.4
Q3 8.2 267.8 23.8
Q4 4.0 292.3 12.3
2021
Q1 3.9 292.3 11.7
Q2 3.8 300.5 11.7
Q3 1.8 315.2 5.8
Q4 0.1 332.3 0.4

Non-financial corporations capture majority of business support dollars

Within the macroeconomic accounts, the domestic economy is divided into institutional sectors given their different roles and economic behaviour. Broadly, these sectors include households, non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH), financial and non-financial corporations, and government. During the pandemic, the greatest flow of business supports was directed to industries concentrated in the non-financial corporations sector, which accounted for 91% ($146 billion) of overall funds received. This was likely the result of a higher proportion of non-financial businesses that met the revenue decline thresholds and the sheer number of businesses that produce goods and non-financial services in Canada relative to other sectors. Within the financial corporations sector, a much smaller amount of support was received ($2.5 billion), as this sector fared better during 2020 and 2021 and did not have the same eligibility for many support programsNote .

Unincorporated businesses, which are classified to the household sector, received the second largest amount of funds ($5.5 billion)Note . Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting as well as construction, transportation and warehousing and other services (except public administration) were the predominant recipient industries within the household sector, together representing almost half of what households received overall. Agriculture and construction are two notable industries where there is sizeable activity undertaken by unincorporated businesses. Additionally, unincorporated businesses tend to feature a higher percentage of smaller businesses making programs such as CEBA popular whereas many unincorporated businesses may not be significant employers resulting in lower uptake of wage subsidy programs.

Chart 7

Data table for Chart 7 
Data table for Chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 7. The information is grouped by CCIUS 2 Digits (appearing as row headers), CEWS, CRHP, CERS, CEBA, CECRA, LEEFF, THRP and HHBRP, calculated using billions $CAD units of measure (appearing as column headers).
CCIUS 2 Digits CEWS CRHP CERS CEBA CECRA LEEFF THRP HHBRP
billions $CAD
Non-financial corporations (S11) 92.91 1.26 7.03 37.66 1.53 3.10 2.37 0.56
Financial corporations (S12) 1.25 0.01 0.10 0.81 0.27 0.00 0.02 0.01
General government (S13) 0.35 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.02 0.00 0.01 0.00
Households (S14) 0.56 0.01 0.36 4.43 0.06 0.00 0.03 0.03
Non-profit institutions serving households (S15) 4.99 0.05 0.20 0.70 0.02 0.00 0.17 0.04

CEWS accounts for largest distribution of funds, CEBA supports greatest number of businesses

According to the various policies and eligibility requirements specific to each program (i.e., size of business, industry of activity, revenue decline recorded), a business could receive varying amounts from one or more programs. The distribution and summary statistics for each program can be found in the following table:


Table 2
Summary statistics on Canadian COVID-19 business support measures
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 2: Summary statistics on Canadian COVID-19 business support measures Program recipients, Amount received, Mean of amount received, Median of amount received, Standard deviation for amount received and Skewness for amount received (appearing as column headers).
Program recipients Amount received Amount received Mean of amount received Median of amount received Standard deviation for amount received Skewness for amount received
count thousands of dollars percent thousands of dollars thousands of dollars thousands of dollars measure of symmetry
Total all programs 1,056,946 161,202,489.4 100.0 153.0 60.0 2,872.3 578
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) 446,936 100,063,724.6 62.1 223.9 50.2 2,532.8 214
Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) 58,064 1,336,948.7 0.8 23.0 5.8 145.5 72
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) 44,376 2,034,216.2 1.3 45.8 15.3 297.6 70
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) 223,438 7,690,835.9 4.8 34.4 14.1 106.4 46
Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) Rent 29,764 684,521.9 0.4 23.0 10.5 58.2 18
Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP) Wage 29,303 1,918,125.7 1.2 65.5 21.4 369.4 34
Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) Rent 20,480 160,266.7 0.1 7.8 3.9 20.3 19
Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP) Wage 10,611 481,359.6 0.3 45.4 12.4 316.5 47
Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) 892,811 43,729,680.0Table 2 Note  27.1 49.0 40.0 10.1 0.33
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) 7 3,102,810.0 1.9 443,258.6 259,470.0 420,165.5 1.7

From March 2020, when the pandemic was officially declared by the WHO, until June 2022, a total of $161 billion of financial support went to over 1 million businesses across Canada. As the largest programs, CEWS and CEBA combined account for roughly 90% of the total business support (Table 2).  CEWS, being the program active for the longest duration from March 2020 to October 2021, recorded the greatest amount of funds disbursed at over $100 billion. This accounted for 62% of the total amount of funds received across the eight programs. In terms of number of recipients, the CEBA program outnumbered all the other programs with almost 900 thousand recipients; however, the smaller loan size of CEBA (i.e., targeting smaller businesses, which are more numerous), the absence of qualification criteria based on revenue decline, and the forgiveness aspect of the program whereby applicants could keep a portion of the borrowed funds, may have contributed to greater uptake among small businesses. CEWS and CHRP as well as CECRA and CERS were targeted measures that focused on providing wage and salary or rent support, while CEBA had broader coverage as an emergency loan program providing funds to cover various operating expenses including wage, salary and rent expense and other non-deferrable expenses.

Distribution of support programs amounts impacted by large values

On average, businesses participating in the LEEFF program received the highest amount of the eight support programs. By the design of the program, loans of $60 million and above were made available, based on the applicant’s cash flow needs for the subsequent 12 months. Next to LEEFF, the CEWS program had the next highest average amount disbursed.

Except CEBA and LEEFF (i.e., loan programs), all other programs (i.e., subsidies/transfers) had high positive skewness with a mean that was higher than the median value for the amount received. This implies a right skewed distribution (Image 1). With a skewness of over 200, CEWS had a much longer tail, as more extreme values influenced the entire distribution. At the same time, CEWS receipts produced the highest standard deviation as values were spread out over a wider range. In this case, the median is a more robust statistic compared to mean as it represents a better measure of the central distribution. Overall, because CEWS was open to many businesses it more closely mirrored the general variability seen in the size distribution of businesses. Additionally, the CEWS program underwent changes in eligibility and subsidy calculations that may have also contributed to this increased skewness. CEBA, designed to provide loans of either $40K or $60K to each business, possessed a symmetric bimodal distribution while LEEFF, with only a handful of participants, had a symmetric multimodal distribution.

Image 1

Description for image 1

Image 1 is a histogram depicting the distribution of the COVID-19 support amounts by program at the business level. The title of each panel refers to a specific support program. Within each panel, the x-axis represents the range of the amounts a business may have received, and the y-axis displays the count of businesses within that specific value range. For example, for the CEWS program, some 6,000 businesses received around $200 thousand each. Eight charts are presented across two rows and four columns. 

In the first row, from left to right, the charts illustrate the amount distribution of CEWS, CRHP, CERS and CECRA respectively. The first chart shows that more than 50 thousand businesses received roughly 0 to 14 thousand dollars from the CEWS program. Within the next value range, 14 to 28 thousand dollars, this number increased to around 90,000 businesses. As the amount received rises, the count of businesses decreases gradually. The chart limits the x-axis to a maximum of 500 thousand dollars to help make the chart visually interpretable. In reality, the maximum value is much higher resulting in a distribution with a right skewed tail, indicating that as the amount of support increases there are fewer businesses receiving that level of support. The distributions of CRHP, CERS, CECRA have a similar pattern: the number of businesses peak in the second value range and gradually decreased as the amount received increases, although each program histogram has different maximum values and skewness.

In the second row, the first two charts are the distributions of amounts for THRP and HHBRP. Their pattern is similar to the first four programs. The third and fourth chart are the distributions for CEBA and LEEFF and represent a different pattern compared to the other six programs. For CEBA, given the amount one business can receive is fixed the histogram illustrates a bimodal distribution, indicating that there are two distinct groups in the data, those businesses receiving $40,000 (around 500 thousand businesses) and those receiving $60,000 (roughly 400 thousand businesses). LEEFF has also its unique multimodal distribution given that only seven businesses participated in the program. The amounts received range from $120 million and $1.3 billion. 

Program uptake varies significantly by industry

The distribution of amounts received by industryNote  can provide a clear picture of the scale of each program by economic activity (Chart 8). Across CEWS, CRHP, CERS, CEBA and HHBRP (both wage and rent portions), the distributions are relatively even as the bulk of these programs were open to all industries. On the other hand, THRP (both wage and rent portions), as its name suggests, was designed to help impacted business in the tourism, hospitality, arts, entertainment, and recreation industries. Therefore, accommodation and food services along with arts, entertainment and recreation together account for almost 70% of the total THRP claims amount. This compares with administrative and support, waste management and remediation services, which is the third largest industry after those two listed above, accounting for 9% of THRP wage and rent claims.

The CECRA program was targeted at landlords to enable lower rent expenses for tenants. Thus, landlords can be considered the direct beneficiaries with most of the funds disbursed ending up in the real estate and rental and leasing industries. Those CECRA funds outside this industry group represent businesses in other industries that may have secondary activities involving rental of commercial real estate. Compared to other programs, LEEFF only targeted seven large businesses for which the transportation and warehousing industry dominates.

Chart 8

Data table for Chart 8 
Data table for Chart 8
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 8. The information is grouped by Industry (NAICS) (appearing as row headers), CEWS, CRHP, CECRA, CERS, THRP Rent, THRP Wage, HHBRP Rent, HHBRP Wage, CEBA and LEEFF, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Industry (NAICS) CEWS CRHP CECRA CERS THRP Rent THRP Wage HHBRP Rent HHBRP Wage CEBA LEEFF
percent
[23] Construction 12.7 15.6 5.6 2.8 0.3 0.4 6.8 9.2 13.6 0.0
[31-33] Manufacturing 17.6 5.9 0.3 5.9 0.9 1.1 6.8 13.9 4.0 0.0
[41,44-45] Wholesale/retail trade 14.4 6.3 1.7 17.6 5.5 5.4 21.1 10.2 13.7 0.0
[48-49] Transportation and warehousing 6.7 4.1 0.6 3.0 1.0 2.3 11.8 13.5 8.9 73.4
[52] Finance and insurance 1.1 1.0 14.7 1.2 0.6 0.6 1.8 1.8 2.0 0.0
[53] Real estate and rental and leasing 1.8 1.7 69.8 4.0 4.4 2.4 4.1 1.6 5.2 0.0
[54] Professional, scientific and technical services 9.3 3.8 0.9 4.8 0.7 1.4 7.9 15.9 12.1 0.0
[56] Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services 5.0 5.7 0.8 2.7 4.6 10.4 3.9 4.2 4.5 10.5
[71] Arts, entertainment and recreation 2.8 8.4 0.6 6.9 13.8 17.8 2.3 1.5 1.7 12.3
[72] Accommodation and food services 8.9 30.4 2.6 30.4 58.7 48.7 5.8 1.4 8.6 0.0
[11,21,22,51,61,62,81] Other industries 19.7 17.2 2.5 20.7 9.4 9.6 27.6 26.9 25.7 3.9

Fewer and fewer businesses involved as program uptake count increases

Most programs were implemented at the outset of the pandemic and ended in 2020 or 2021, such as CEWS, CERS, CECRA, and CEBA, whereas CRHP, THRP and HHBRP began in mid-to-late 2021. Therefore, even though a business could apply for one or more programs, it could not necessarily be involved in multiple programs simultaneously because they may have been active over different time periods. Several more recent programs were successors of preceding support measures and thus share a certain amount of continuity.  If a business applied for CEWS, for instance, then it was likely to be eligible for CRHP assuming the business’ situation remained challenging as per the eligibility criteria of the new program; both CRHP and CEWS shared similar requirements for prospective applicants. By the same token, if a business applied for CEWS or CERS, it may also have been eligible for THRP or HHBRP, so long as it met the conditions of each program. 


Table 3
Number of businesses by program uptake count
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 3: Number of businesses by program uptake count. The information is grouped by Program uptake count (appearing as row headers), Business count and Percentage (appearing as column headers).
Program uptake count Business count Percentage
1 613,191 58.0
2 277,242 26.2
3 116,977 11.1
4 36,094 3.4
5 12,637 1.0
6 Less than 900 < 0.1
7 Less than 10 < 0.01
Total 1,056,946 100

Over the course of more than two years, around 600,000 businesses, representing nearly 60% of all participants across the seven support measures, took part in only one program (Table 3). As the program participation count increased, the number of participating businesses declined, with less than ten businesses participating in all seven programs.  There are two main explanations for this trend. First, a business which is eligible for one program may not meet the requirements for another. Hence, as the program participation count increases, the overall pool of eligible businesses declines.

Chart 9

Data table for Chart 9 
Data table for Chart 9
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 9. The information is grouped by Group Labels (appearing as row headers), CEWS, CEBA, CERS, CECRA, LEEFF, CRHP, HHBRP Rent, HHBRP Wage, THRP Rent and THRP Wage, calculated using billions $CAD units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Group Labels CEWS CEBA CERS CECRA LEEFF CRHP HHBRP Rent HHBRP Wage THRP Rent THRP Wage
billions $CAD
Emergency Programs (CEWS, CERS, CEBA, CECRA, LEEFF) 100.06 43.73 7.69 2.03 3.10 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
Recovery Programs (CRHP, HHBRP, THRP) Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 1.34 0.16 0.48 0.68 1.92

Second, recovery programs such as CRHP, THRP and HHBRP were implemented much later in the pandemic at a time when the general economic situation had improved, and the initial emergency programs had ended. Altogether, these three programs accounted for a relatively small portion of the entire support amount (Chart 9) and had considerably fewer recipients than the earlier programs. Businesses participating in five or more programs would have participated in one of these three.

Chart 10

Data table for Chart 10 
Data table for Chart 10
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 10. The information is grouped by Industry (NAICS) (appearing as row headers), Program count, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Industry (NAICS) Program count
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
percent
[23] Construction 14.24 15.27 9.17 3.94 0.77 0.51 0.00
[31-33] Manufacturing 3.55 5.61 6.32 4.43 2.26 1.27 0.00
[41,44-45] Wholesale/retail trade 12.45 14.91 17.33 12.52 8.03 16.65 20.00
[48-49] Transportation and warehousing 11.26 5.19 3.36 1.63 0.77 0.25 0.00
[52] Finance and insurance 2.66 1.57 1.10 0.65 0.31 0.13 0.00
[53] Real estate and rental and leasing 8.80 4.67 2.58 2.00 1.34 3.05 0.00
[54] Professional, scientific and technical services 12.63 12.07 9.07 5.41 1.88 1.78 0.00
[56] Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services 4.53 4.27 3.92 4.41 2.27 2.29 0.00
[71] Arts, entertainment and recreation 1.22 1.89 2.87 5.63 7.41 9.15 0.00
[72] Accommodation and food services 3.84 6.41 16.15 36.46 58.72 32.40 40.00
[11,21,22,51,61,62,81] Other industries 24.82 28.14 28.12 22.93 16.22 32.53 40.00

Businesses from the accommodation and food service industry tended to participate in more programs compared to other industries (Chart 10), while they represented about 7.3% of total recipients. This industry’s share grew as the program participation count increased to five programs.

Small businesses receive majority of support

Businesses can be classified by size based on employee count, that is, small businesses (0 to 99 employees), medium businesses (100 to 499 employees) and large businesses (over 500 employees)Note . Overall, small business recipients accounted for about 98.6% of total participants while only 0.3% were large businesses (Chart 11). However, the story is different when considering the amount of funds received, with 68% of funds going to small businesses compared with 20% to large businesses. On average, large businesses received more support per business. This is attributable to the fact that CEWS accounted for the lion’s share of support and that CEWS applicants provide the wages and counts of eligible employees on which claim amounts are based. Thus, larger businesses or those business with more employees were able to make larger CEWS claims.

Chart 11

Data table for Chart 11 
Data table for Chart 11
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 11. The information is grouped by Size Class (appearing as row headers), Small, Medium and Large, calculated using billions of dollars (except business count), 1,042,648, 10,783 and 3,515 units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Size Class Small Medium Large
billions of dollars (except business count)
CEWS 54.55 17.06 28.45
CRHP 0.89 0.25 0.20
CERS 6.36 0.73 0.60
CEBA 43.66 0.06 0.01
CECRA 1.92 0.03 0.09
LEEFF 0.00 0.12 2.98
THRP Rent 0.56 0.07 0.05
THRP Wage 1.10 0.33 0.48
HHBRP Rent 0.15 0.01 0.01
HHBRP Wage 0.33 0.06 0.10
number
Business count 1,042,648 10,783 3,515

At the industry level, there is a significant positive correlation between the number of employees within an industry and the CEWS support received (Chart 12). Among applicants for CEWS, manufacturing represented the greatest share of employees compared with other industries and consequently, it received the most CEWS support (Chart 13). Beyond this, another factor contributing to the difference in amounts received is the gap between employee wages by industry. In 2020 and 2021, for example, the average hourly wage rates were $26.91 and $27.67 in the manufacturing industry, compared to $16.86 and $17.18 in accommodation and food servicesNote . This helps explain the significant discrepancy in the amount received by the two industries, even with the similar number of employees within each industry and given the maximum subsidy allowable per employee.

Chart 12

Data table for Chart 12 
Data table for Chart 12
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 12. The information is grouped by Industry (NAICS) (appearing as row headers), number of employees and CEWS Amount, calculated using number of employees, thousands and billions $CAD units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Industry (NAICS) Number of employees CEWS Amount
thousands billions $CAD
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting 233.45 1.80
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 574.83 3.09
Utilities 25.43 0.12
Construction 1,527.22 12.54
Manufacturing 2,765.21 17.39
Wholesale trade 1,460.50 6.93
Retail trade 1,549.74 7.26
Transportation and warehousing 1,189.03 6.60
Information and cultural industries 1,076.65 2.56
Finance and insurance 215.33 1.13
Real estate and rental and leasing 321.23 1.76
Professional, scientific and technical services 1,433.97 9.17
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services 1,201.58 4.94
Educational services 175.80 1.64
Health care and social assistance 1,368.52 5.18
Arts, entertainment and recreation 657.18 2.80
Accommodation and food services 2,612.18 8.75
Other services (except public administration) 728.11 5.08

Chart 13

Data table for Chart 13 
Data table for Chart 13
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 13. The information is grouped by Industry (NAICS) (appearing as row headers), CEWS, CRHP, CERS, CEBA, CECRA, LEEFF, THRP and HHBRP, calculated using billions $CAD units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Industry (NAICS) CEWS CRHP CERS CEBA CECRA LEEFF THRP HHBRP
billions $CAD
[31-33] Manufacturing 17.394 0.077 0.435 1.663 0.004 Note ...: not applicable 0.026 0.075
[23] Construction 12.536 0.206 0.209 5.601 0.095 Note ...: not applicable 0.009 0.053
[72] Accommodation and food services 8.748 0.402 2.239 3.564 0.043 Note ...: not applicable 1.302 0.015
[54] Professional, scientific and technical services 9.165 0.050 0.356 4.979 0.015 Note ...: not applicable 0.031 0.085
[48-49] Transportation and warehousing 6.597 0.054 0.220 3.664 0.010 2.276 0.051 0.080
[44-45] Retail trade 7.257 0.053 0.993 4.103 0.020 Note ...: not applicable 0.123 0.050
[81] Other services (except public administration) 5.076 0.075 0.679 3.221 0.018 Note ...: not applicable 0.109 0.053
[62] Health care and social assistance 5.182 0.050 0.250 3.409 0.015 Note ...: not applicable 0.023 0.028
[41] Wholesale trade 6.933 0.030 0.301 1.527 0.009 Note ...: not applicable 0.015 0.028
[56] Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services 4.944 0.075 0.200 1.846 0.013 0.327 0.225 0.025
[53] Real estate and rental and leasing 1.759 0.022 0.297 2.144 1.182 Note ...: not applicable 0.074 0.013
[71] Arts, entertainment and recreation 2.797 0.111 0.505 0.717 0.010 0.380 0.426 0.010
[11] Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting 1.804 0.061 0.172 2.754 0.002 Note ...: not applicable 0.002 0.011
[21] Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction 3.090 0.017 0.061 0.201 0.000 0.120 0.000 0.007
[51] Information and cultural industries 2.565 0.011 0.124 0.452 0.001 Note ...: not applicable 0.059 0.039
[61] Educational services 1.635 0.013 0.235 0.546 0.006 Note ...: not applicable 0.050 0.028
[52] Finance and insurance 1.129 0.014 0.085 0.810 0.250 Note ...: not applicable 0.015 0.011
[22] Utilities 0.120 0.000 0.002 0.018 0.000 Note ...: not applicable 0.000 0.000

The domain of small business was CEBA, while larger businesses claim the largest share of CEWS support

Looking at the data by more granular categories of business size, most recipients of CEWS are businesses with 1 to 4 and 5 to 19 employees. The amount of CEWS support received generally increases with the greater number of employees a business has, consistent with the positive correlation mentioned previously.

For CEBA, as with CEWS, most businesses receiving loan support had 1 to 4 employees. For this particular program, the total amount received and the number of recipients are highly related. This reflects the structure of the program for which each business could only receive $40,000 or $60,000, regardless of how many employees were on payroll.

Chart 14

Data table for Chart 14 
Data table for Chart 14
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 14. The information is grouped by CEWS (appearing as row headers), Number of businesses (left axis) and CEWS amount (right axis) (appearing as column headers).
CEWS Number of businesses (left axis) CEWS amount (right axis)
Size of group business count billions $CAD
<1 2,477 0.51
1-4 180,725 8.07
5-19 181,983 19.10
20-99 67,999 26.88
100-249 8,163 11.08
250+ 5,589 34.43

Chart 15

Data table for Chart 15 
Data table for Chart 15
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 15. The information is grouped by CEBA (appearing as row headers), Number of businesses (left axis) and CEBA amount (right axis) (appearing as column headers).
CEBA Number of businesses (left axis) CEBA amount (right axis)
Size of Group business count billions $CAD
<1 132,085 6.78
1-4 464,691 22.49
5-19 244,688 11.93
20-99 49,956 2.46
100-249 1,023 0.05
250+ 368 0.02

Quintile distribution analysis: top 20% of businesses (based on total claim amount) receive majority of support

If we rank all the businesses by the total support amount they received and assign them into five groups with equal number of businesses, then across all the programs (except CEBA and LEEFF), the quintile distribution shows that the top 20% of businesses (fifth quintile) received at least 60% of the total support amounts (Chart 16). This grows to over 80% for CEWS, higher than the same quintile among other programs. With CEWS, almost 90% of large business are in the top quintile and represent nearly all (99.9%) support received in this quintile. Consistent with the previous analysis, CEWS claims are highly related with the number of employees and, therefore, most large businesses are classified within the top quintile. While there are still about 10% of large businesses in other quintiles, they accounted for only 0.1% of the total amounts received. In particular, around 2% of large businesses appear in the bottom quintile where, on average, they received disproportionally less than their counterparts in the top 20%.  This may indicate that among larger businesses in the lower quintiles, some did not have as significant a revenue drop and therefore qualified for smaller subsidy amounts.

Chart 16

Data table for Chart 16 
Data table for Chart 16
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 16. The information is grouped by Program (appearing as row headers), First quintile, Second quintile, Third quintile, Fourth quintile and Fifth quintile, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Program First quintile Second quintile Third quintile Fourth quintile Fifth quintile
percent
CEWS 0.67 2.14 4.60 10.28 82.32
CRHP 0.64 2.25 5.21 12.32 79.58
CERS 1.15 3.97 8.29 16.13 70.46
CECRA 1.56 3.73 6.76 13.70 74.26
THRP rent 1.86 4.86 9.26 17.28 66.74
THRP wage 1.18 3.41 6.68 12.75 75.98
HHBRP rent 2.08 5.41 10.01 18.99 63.51
HHBRP wage 0.83 2.71 5.62 12.06 78.79

Next steps

Overall, business support measures during COVID-19 were both significant in size and scope, with the uptake of many programs occurring very broadly across industries and business sizes. In terms of sectors, non-financial corporations were the main recipients of support while within this sector businesses classified to the accommodation and food services industry were significant beneficiaries in terms of the number of support programs. As these programs have ended, there remains future work in terms of analyzing other business characteristics and medium-term outcomes of support program participants. This can help reveal additional insight into the effectiveness of these programs in bolstering a return to economic activity as conditions improved while highlighting the structural shifts among businesses and industries that may have occurred because of this significant event.

A preliminary version of the CCBSMLE data, on which the analysis above is based, will be made available in the future along with a guide to the methodologies and data sources used.


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