Prime minister defends evolution of wage subsidy, CERB and addresses how businesses can pay rent
By Todd Humber
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s daily briefing was light on details for employers — but Finance Minister Bill Morneau is expected to walk employers through the fine points of the 75 per cent wage subsidy later today.
Talent Canada will continue to monitor updates throughout the day and bring them to you.
Trudeau was pressed about the changes in the wage subsidy, which started out at 10 per cent and was only for small employers, later to rise to 75 per cent and be opened to all employers who experienced a 30 per cent decline or more in revenue.
Had the more aggressive measures been in place earlier, some layoffs could have been avoided and employers wouldn’t now have to decide whether or not to recall staff.
“This situation has been evolving rapidly,” said Trudeau. “We’re putting in place unprecedented measures to respond to the needs that people are expressing on how we’re going to be able to get through this together.”
Ottawa opened the program up, and expanded the subsidy, so workers could stay on the payroll while they stay home and self isolate, he said. That should enable the Canadian economy to “bounce back strongly” once the pandemic is over, he said.
CERB and minimum wage jobs
He also addressed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which provides a payment of $2,000 per month for workers who lose their jobs due to COVID-19 — and whether or not that was a disincentive for someone at a minimum wage job to either keep working or take on a new role.
“It was really important for us to get money into people’s pockets quickly,” said Trudeau. “We recognize that there are going to be challenges around certain essential services, and we’re going to work with the provinces and we’re going to encourage people to find solutions that will allow people to stay safe while they continue to do the job they need to do.”
Help for businesses paying rent
Tomorrow is April 1, which means for many businesses rent is due — or perhaps a mortgage payment on their facilities. Trudeau said the 75 per cent wage subsidy should free up cash to help employers make those payments.
Plus, there are $40,000 loans for small businesses available through the banks that is interest free for the first year and, in some cases, $10,000 will be non-repayable.
“There are direct measures for companies to be able to get the liquidity necessary to get through the coming months,” he said.