Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy available to businesses of any size hit by coronavirus effects

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The federal government says the wage subsidy for businesses struggling with the economic effects of the coronavirus — which was boosted to 75 per cent last week — will be available to all type of businesses.

“Over the past few weeks, you’ve had to get creative to keep money coming in andnd in some cases, you’ve had to make the difficult decision of letting your employees go,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during a news conference.

“For people to get through this tough time and for the economy to rebound, people have to keep their job, so we announced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the announcement brings relief to employers and employees.

“The decisions to make the wage subsidy widely available to employers of all sizes and structures is the right approach given the unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dan Kelly, president of CFIB, in a release.

“The wage subsidy is the single best measure to help Canada prepare for a quick recovery the minute the emergency phase of the pandemic is over.”

A business with revenue down at least 30 per cent qualifies for the subsidy, including non-profit organizations and charities. The number of employees will not determine eligibility.

But Kelly says the requirements might be too stringent.

“While it is reasonable for government to require evidence of a financial impact on businesses in order to qualify for the program, CFIB has heard from several businesses with very small margins, where even a modest reduction in sales can require significant changes in their staffing levels,” said Kelly.

The subsidy applies to the first $58,700 per employee, maxing out at $847 a week and backdated to March 15th.

The Prime Minister urged employers to top up the remaining 25 per cent of employee wages if possible, and warned businesses not to take advantage of the subsidy.

“And if you think this is a system you can game or take advantage of, don’t,” said the Prime Minister.

“There will be serious consequences for those who do.”

The Department of Finance wasn’t able to provide further details. The Prime Minister says Finance Minister Bill Morneau will have more on the cost of the program Tuesday.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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