Federal COVID-19 wage subsidy to last through summer, Trudeau says


OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a federal wage subsidy for employees in businesses hit hard by COVID-19 will last at least until the end of August.

The subsidy was set to expire in the first week of June, only a few weeks after the first payments rolled out.

Speaking outside his Ottawa residence Friday, Trudeau said the idea is to give employers more runway and confidence to resume operations slowly if they have to. He is also asking companies to bring back their employees.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is to reveal details of a broadening of the program later today, including what Trudeau said will be expanded eligibility.

A release from Morneau’s department said eligibility rules will allow Indigenous-government-owned corporations or partnerships to qualify, as well as amateur athletic associations, registered journalism organizations, and private colleges and training schools.

Trudeau also said the government will make adjustments to the program, including changes to the threshold for how much qualifying companies’ revenues must have declined, to ensure employers can continue getting help as business kicks back up.

“As the economy reopens, there is a danger of unintended consequences,” he said.

“If part of the eligibility criteria for getting the wage subsidy is a decrease of 30 per cent of your business, we wouldn’t want people who are getting back their business going to feel like they have to hold back on their growth, on their expansion, on their rehiring in order to be able to continue benefiting from the wage subsidy.”

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the simplified wage subsidy would be a boost for small businesses and a relief for seasonal industries like tourism looking ahead to a soft summer.

“It is a major shift on the part of the federal government towards getting Canadians back to work and carefully reopening the economy. This is welcome news,” Kelly tweeted.

The subsidy covers 75 per cent of wages for employers that have seen sharp declines in revenue since the novel coronavirus pandemic hit Canada hard in March, up to $847 per worker, per week. The legislation that created the subsidy gave the government the authority to extend qualifying periods for help through to the end of September.

The hope was that the subsidy would pull workers onto payrolls and away from the a $2,000-a-month emergency benefit for employees who have either lost their jobs or seen their incomes drop below $1,000 a month.

Federal figures posted Friday morning show just under eight million people have applied for that Canada Emergency Response Benefit, receiving just under $35.9 billion between them. The program had a budget of $35 billion.

The latest federal figures show Ottawa has paid out $3.36 billion in wage subsidies to 123,642 companies, the vast majority of which are for under $100,000 in aid.

The figures are far below what federal officials envisioned for the program that aims to keep employees tied to their job for when business activity resumes.

Trudeau also said the government will provide the same level of payroll support to universities and health-research institutes through a $450-million fund.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


    • another 5 people who dont have clue what there talking about and wont be saying this and surely wont be laughing when they lose there jobs and end up in the food bank line ups with the people they laughed at for years im saying that Trudeau is currently helping rich corporations and not middle class and not low income people and its not just Trudeau it has been that way for years with both parties

    • in the 1930s the people from that time period prepared for crisis and built hospitals big hospitals and the health care was good then problem is we have closed and demolished those big hospitals and now we dont have them and going without them Trudeau and Ford both right now should be employing people to build hospitals but there not

    • Serena Madonna same money coming in monthly, same bills oh ya the 650 a month is going to cover the high cost of rent and bills and food while the rich corporations are given bailouts and then go bankrupt and leave

    • Serena Madonna the right question to ask is why is that Trudeau and past politicians have been bailing out the rich corporations while not helping the poor middle class and seniors and people with disability and not fixing our health care system and infrastructure

    • Serena Madonna ya thats just a loan which has to be paid back and if you were not working before the pandemic then you wont qualify for the loan and even for small business its not as much as the big corperation ceos are getting everyone all workers and non workers are getting basicly little to nothing while the ceos get all the money you cant even get masks if your a worker and thats the same with the public unless you order on line and pay for them out of your own pocket but what sucks even more is that our health care is in shambles like st thomas they had a hospital in the 1930s ontario hospital it was huge and it could help thousands of people they closed it and let it go abandon and didnt renovate it or built a new one now all they have is a small hospital in the city that can maybe hold about 100 people thats it even places like london they tore down south street hospital and sold the other hospital on highbury street that was able to help thousands at once now all we have is like 2 hospitals in the city places up north are even worse and some remote communities only have a clinic if there lucky enough to even have that and then ontop of that we have grassy narrows with polluted water and still lots of water advisory’s in some areas which also sucks and its because the politicians didnt do things right they tore down hospitals and shut them down and didnt build new ones and didnt really invest in infrastructure and keep recycling old policys and old programs

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