Wage subsidy program will be extended past June, says Trudeau

The federal government’s emergency wage-subsidy program is going to be extended beyond June.

The program covers 75 per cent of employees’ pay, up to $847, to help employers — who are facing plummeting revenues due to pandemic measures — keep their workers on the payroll for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

The program was set to end June 6. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he’ll offer more details about the extension next week.

“Since it launched last week, employers have applied for subsidies for almost two million workers,” he said. “And as provinces and territories start to gradually reopen over the coming months, and the [Canada Emergency Response Benefit] becomes needed less and less, this subsidy will play an even greater role.”

News of the extension comes as new Statistics Canada numbers show 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.

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

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, applauded the decision to extend the subsidy.

“I give credit to the government for listening carefully to the concerns of small businesses who were worried that this needed support would run out before many are even able to reopen their doors,” he said in a media statement.

Kelly said he’d like to see more changes to help small businesses stay afloat — such as an expansion of the emergency business account to include small firms that pay dividends or contract wages. He said he’d also like the government to consider other avenues to help tenants pay rent if their landlords choose not to participate in the rental assistance program.

Canadians can receive the wage subsidy or the CERB — not both. The CERB is a taxable benefit that offers workers $2,000 every four weeks if they lose their income as a result of the pandemic.


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