Madam Chair, it is a pleasure to be here today to speak about our government's response during the COVID-19 pandemic and how we are working to support the reopening of the economy, including the steps we took right here this week to move forward with a redesigned Canada emergency wage subsidy.
Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the greatest challenges we will face in our lifetime. This is an unprecedented crisis, and our government has been working tirelessly to protect jobs and stabilize the economy to ensure that our businesses can prepare for better days and to provide come certainty to the workers and families who depend on the jobs at those businesses in these extremely uncertain times.
Our government has put in place a rapid and substantial COVID-19 economic response plan that is supporting Canadians and Canadian businesses and working hard to leave no one behind. We did this to ensure that Canada is well positioned to recover as public health conditions allow. Since March, the government has been taking actions through the COVID-19 economic response plan to support Canadians and their families in this very difficult time. The economic response plan is providing broad-based support that is keeping our economy stable and protecting jobs.
Canada's COVID-19 economic response plan includes more than $230 billion in measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians and provide direct support to Canadian workers and businesses including liquidity support through tax and customs duty deferrals. This represents nearly 14% of Canada's GDP, making Canada's plan one of the most generous response plans in the world. The supports our government has put in place are making sure Canadians can pay their mortgages or rent, put food on the table and fill prescriptions. They help our workplaces remain in business during this time of incredible uncertainty.
Last week, the Prime Minister announced the safe restart agreement, supported by over $19 billion in federal investments, to help the provinces and territories restart the economy over the months ahead while making Canada more resilient to possible future waves of the virus. We have already made major funding announcements and will continue to do so in many areas, including health care, child care and municipal services.
A pillar of our government's support has been the Canada emergency wage subsidy. The Canada emergency wage subsidy provides qualified employers with a subsidy for remuneration paid to employees. The CEWS protects jobs by helping businesses keep employees on their payroll and encourages employers to rehire the workers who were previously laid off. To date, this program has supported nearly three million workers.
Bold and ambitious programs like the Canada emergency wage subsidy are one of the key reasons Canada has stayed strong through this crisis. Measures like this one have been crucial to preventing worse outcomes. Without this support, millions might have lost their jobs and businesses would have lost workers. The important connection between an employer and employee would have been severed, leaving our businesses in a worse-off position and slow to recover, and leaving Canadians with uncertainty about whether, as things improve, they would have jobs to go back to.
Throughout this crisis, our government has actively monitored the situation and remained ready to adjust programs to meet the evolving needs of this unprecedented crisis. That has included input from all 338 members of Parliament in the House.
In support of this objective, yesterday the House voted in favour of Bill C-20, which would see a redesign of the Canada emergency wage subsidy. The redesign takes into account the valuable perspective gained through our government's recent consultations with business leaders and labour representatives on how this program can best serve the needs of employers and employees as the economy restarts. Bill C-20 would extend the program beyond our originally announced extension of August 29, extending it to November 21, 2020, with the intent of providing further support into December.
The bill would also make the wage subsidy more accessible by making the base subsidy available to all eligible employers that are experiencing a decline in revenues, no matter how much. As I heard from a number of businesses in my riding, we had to make things more flexible, especially as they are beginning to open up and some are starting to make revenue again. By removing the 30% revenue decline threshold, we will also be able to support businesses that have been receiving the subsidy as they are returning to growth.
Our government recognizes that this virus is still with us and that economic recovery will be a gradual process. We want to make sure that no employer feels the need to choose between getting the support that they need and returning to growth.
With the bill, we are also proposing to introduce a top-up subsidy for the most adversely affected employers. This would help make the Canada emergency wage subsidy more responsive, with those who have had the largest decline getting more support and those who are recovering having gradual decreases as business picks up.
By reducing disincentives to create jobs and increasing revenues over the summer and into the fall, the redesign of the Canada emergency wage subsidy will support a strong restart for Canadians and employers.
I would now like to speak about other measures that we have put in place to provide support to Canadians during this unprecedented pandemic.
The Canada emergency response benefit has been a crucial lifeline for millions of Canadian families. More than eight million Canadians have applied for this support. It has made sure that in the face of a historic emergency, Canadians have had the money for essentials. In my constituency, some Canadians were not able to buy healthy, nutritious food for their children because they had lost all sources of income. The fact that we were able to make this more flexible as we went along, so that people making less than $1,000 who could not make ends meet were able to get the benefit, is a testament to the hard work of the members of the House.
We have also put in place a number of other measures to help families during this challenging time. Families received a special Canada child benefit top-up payment of $300 per child in May. I want to take a moment to remind families that beginning July 20, which is this week, we are increasing the CCB once again, as we do every year. We have also supported 12 million low- and modest-income families with a special payment through the goods and services tax credit. The average additional benefit was close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples, which helped a number of families in the initial stages to deal with the extra costs they had because of this pandemic.
The COVID-19 crisis has left many homeowners in Canada without a job or with reduced hours wondering how they are going to pay their mortgage. Homeowners facing financial stress have been eligible for a mortgage payment deferral of up to six months to relieve their financial burden. In addition, with the bill, we are proposing to support an estimated 1.7 million Canadians with disabilities, through a one-time, tax-free payment of $600 to assist with the additional expenses that they are facing in this pandemic. I want to thank all members for working so hard to make sure this will happen.
The government continues to assess the impact of COVID-19. As we have said since the start of this crisis, we stand ready to take additional actions if necessary.
This week, this House has taken measures to ensure that Canadians receive timely help, thereby ensuring that our economy opens up again in a safe and effective manner.
Together we will get through this. Together, by working with provinces, municipalities and across all parties, we will be able to help Canadians get through the crisis. As the crisis eventually and gradually dissipates, we will be in a better position to rebound and build a stronger country.