Feds proposing to expand wage subsidy program

Ottawa | Reuters — The Canadian government wants to expand an emergency wage subsidy program so that all businesses suffering losses from the COVID-19 outbreak will benefit, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Friday.

Morneau told a news conference that Ottawa would drop an earlier requirement stipulating that businesses needed to show a 30 per cent drop in revenue to be eligible. The changes will come into effect in July and will run to Dec. 19, he added.

Some firms had complained the eligibility rules were too onerous and could prevent them from fully reopening for fear they would lose access to the subsidy.

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“(It’s) critical that we have businesses able to continue to hire people even as they get into the restart and we know the requirement that businesses have a 30 per cent reduction in revenue is not helpful,” said Morneau.

“Businesses will get the wage subsidy if they have had any reduction in revenue. … It broadens the number of organizations and helps them to restart.”

Morneau also said firms which had suffered more than a 50 per cent loss of revenue would get an additional subsidy of up to 25 per cent.

Canada has provided more than $212 billion in direct COVID-19 aid for those hit by the outbreak and nearly 14 per cent of gross domestic product in total support.

— Reporting for Reuters by David Ljunggren.

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