Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said that nearly 10,000 businesses have applied for his government’s wage-subsidy program of C$73 billion ($52 billion) to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Applications opened in the early hours of the day and the subsidy was available for three months, retroactive to March 15, according to the reports.

During a daily press briefing, the prime minister said, “That gives you a sense of just how many people this program will help. Right across the country, it’s going to keep businesses and workers connected, and that gives people certainty that they will have a job now, and in the months to come, to support themselves and their family,”

The program covers 75 per cent of the first C$58,700 of an employee’s wage.

Trudeau has expanded the scope of, and eligibility for the program since first promising it last month.

It was passed at the Canadian parliament on April 11.

Last week, Trudeau announced to allot additional 1.1 billion country’s dollars (about US $782 million) for national medical research against the COVID-19.

Trudeau confirmed planned changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, including greater flexibility for employers to have access to the program.

Business groups complained that the initial criteria for the wage subsidy, including the requirement that a business claiming the subsidy see its revenue decline by 30 per cent compared to the same month in the previous year, would exclude many businesses, including new, growing or seasonal companies.

Trudeau also announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program aimed at helping young people get work.

The changes include a boost to the wage subsidy up to 100 per cent and an extension of the end date for employment to February 28, 2021 and the inclusion of part-time jobs.

Trudeau noted that it is a long way off if Canadians want life to get back to the way it was exactly before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There will be differences, even a few years from now, that we will have learned from dealing with this global pandemic that I think will be important lessons,” he added.

There were 48,230 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada and 2,701 deaths.