Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is being extended until the end of August.
The subsidy was initially set to expire in the first week of June, however, in an effort to further alleviate financial stress on businesses impacted by COVID-19, the federal government has decided to elongate the program an additional three months.
“Far too many Canadians have lost their jobs because of COVID-19,” said the prime minister during his daily national address.
“As our economy gradually reopens, wherever we can do so safely, we need you back.”
Trudeau points to businesses that are looking at reopening in the coming weeks, like restaurants, salons and gyms, and suggests they will need staff immediately.
Trudeau added the goal of the extension is to give employers more runway and confidence to resume operations at a comfortable pace.
“Please, bring back your employees,” emphasized Trudeau.
The prime minister also suggested that the government will work with business stakeholders over the next month and make any adjustments to the wage subsidy program, if needed, in order to maximize its effectiveness.
“One of the things we will be looking at is the 30% revenue decline threshold for eligibility,” said Trudeau. “As businesses start up, needing a decline shouldn’t be a barrier to growth.”
Trudeau implied that the government has already broadened the scope of the subsidy program and said that Finance Minister Bill Morneau will reveal these details later today. He also encouraged any business that falls within the requirements and hasn’t yet applied, to consider doing so.
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.
Along with the emergency wage subsidy extension, Trudeau unveiled more federal funding aimed at preventing the layoffs of thousands of medical researchers.
He said the federal government will provide $450 million to help researchers and research institutions “bridge to better times.”
Trudeau said the government will also provide temporary support on wages for universities and affiliated research institutes, delivering the money through federal granting agencies.
Research unrelated to the novel coronavirus — including clinical trials and research into cancer, stroke and other diseases — was halted in mid-March.
Hospital-based institutes have warned much of the funding they rely on to pay for that research — including charitable donations, contributions from foundations and clinical trial contracts with pharmaceutical companies — has evaporated amid the pandemic.
More to come.