Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced that his government’s wage subsidy program for employees in businesses hit hard by COVID-19 will last until the end of August.
During a press briefing in Ottawa, PM Trudeau said, “Business owners: please take confidence from this announcement. You have some runway to catch your breath as you get restarted, so please, bring back your workers”.
The subsidy, designed to incentivize employers to keep staff on the payroll or bring back those who were laid off, was initially meant to cost 73 billion Canadian dollars (about US $52 billion).
So far, 3.4 billion Canadian dollars reportedly have been spent on wage subsidy by more than 120,000 companies.
The subsidy covers 75 percent of wages for employers that have seen sharp declines in revenue since the pandemic hit Canada hard in March, or up to 847 Canadian dollars per worker per week.
It was set to expire in the first week of June and now is extended by an additional 12 weeks to August 29.
Earlier this week, Trudeau announced a new multi million dollar loan program for large companies impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Earlier, Trudeau announced 252 million Canadian dollars (US $179 million) to the agri-food sector to help protect farmers and food processors against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 252 million Canadian dollars, 77 million is earmarked to help food processors buy protective equipment for workers and expand domestic processing capacity of food; 125 million is meant to help cattle and hog producers because of their costs increase, and 50 million will go for a food surplus purchasing program to compensate food producers.
The program is open to large commercial businesses in all sectors and certain not-for-profit businesses like airports.
But businesses in the financial sector are not eligible, nor are any firms convicted of tax evasion in the past.
Trudeau has expanded the scope of, and eligibility for the program since first promising it in March.
Canada reported fewer than 100 new deaths on Friday, bringing its national coronavirus death toll to 5,562.
The number of COVID-19 cases went up by just over 1,100 new cases, totalling 74,602, with more than 36,000 recoveries.
According to data collected by Global News, this is the first time since April 26 — when 95 deaths were reported — that the country has seen daily deaths reported in the double digits as opposed to triple digits.
Meanwhile, globally, 4,628,356 people have been infected by coronavirus so far, and the total number of deaths from the disease now stands at 308,645.