Emergency COVID-19 wage-subsidy program extended until end of August

The government’s emergency wage-subsidy program will be extended until the end of August to help employers keep their workers on the payroll during the coronavirus pandemic, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The $73 billion wage-subsidy program, which covers 75 per cent of an eligible company’s payroll, up to a maximum of $847 per week per employee, was originally set to expire next month.

“You have some runway to catch your breath as you get restarted,” said Trudeau in his prepared remarks. “So please, bring back your workers.”

Companies that saw their revenues drop by 15 per cent in March or 30 per cent in April and May are eligible for the program — but Trudeau hinted changes could be coming to that threshold.

“As businesses start up again, this shouldn’t become a barrier to growth,” he said.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is expected to provide more details.

The extension comes as some businesses prepare to gradually reopen.

Ontario announced details of its first stage of reopening yesterday. Beginning on Tuesday, retail stores outside of shopping malls that have street entrances will be allowed to open.

In Alberta, retail stores, hair salons, museums, daycares and day camps are allowed to open, with restrictions, across much of the province. Calgary and Brooks, however, are on a different timeline due to higher case counts of COVID-19 in the two areas.

The country lost almost two million jobs during the month of April — a record high — as the impact of COVID-19 on the economy made itself known, according to Statistics Canada figures released a week ago.

The agency’s Labour Force Survey data estimates the total number of jobs lost during the crisis at more than three million.


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