The federal government has announced the emergency wage subsidy program is now being extended beyond its June cutoff, in an effort to encourage more employers to re-hire staff and “help kick-start” the gradual reopening of the economy.
“Across the country, business owners are using the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to keep their workers on the payroll. And to make sure even more business owners and workers get the support they need, we’re going to extend the wage subsidy beyond June,” the Prime Minister said on Friday morning.
Through this program, the federal government will provide eligible employers with a subsidy of 75% of an employee’s wages for up to 12 weeks to a maximum of $847 per employee per week. The program was initially retroactive from March 15, 2020 with an original end date of June 6, 2020. The PM said more details will be announced in the coming days.
Trudeau also noted that since the emergency wage subsidy opened to applicants last week employers have applied for the 75% subsidy for more than 2 million workers, with businesses set to receive their first payments this week.
The announcement of the extension comes on the same day Statistics Canada released data highlighting the time period since the COVID lockdown began. Between February and the end of April, more than three million Canadians lose their jobs, while millions of other residents have seen their incomes or hours reduced significantly as a result of all non-essential businesses being closed.
Statistics Canada said the country’s unemployment rate increased by 5.2 percentage points to 13% in April, compared to 7.8% in March, marking the second-highest unemployment rate on record — after December 1982, when the rate reached 13.1%. The agency described the job losses as “unprecedented.”
Across the country, business owners are using the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to keep their workers on the payroll. And to make sure even more business owners and workers get the support they need, we’re going to extend the wage subsidy beyond June.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 8, 2020
Trudeau has previously called the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic “the largest economic program in Canada’s history,” with the $73 billion wage subsidy acting as a major part of the more than $150 billion in assistance already enacted since the outbreak unfolded across the country.