Liberals revise COVID-19 wage subsidy, ease eligibility in bid to boost takeup

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old wage subsidy poster

Canadian Press

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the Liberals are easing eligibility rules for the government’s emergency wage subsidy and changing the amounts businesses can receive.

The government had been under pressure to make the subsidy more accessible, specifically by loosening the requirement of a 30 per cent drop in revenues, so more companies under that cut-off can qualify.

Speaking in Toronto, Morneau says the rules will be changed so amounts paid out will be proportional to revenue declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program is the heart of the Liberals’ promise to help Canadians get back to work, even if has to be at a slower pace, as the pandemic wanes.

Morneau’s fiscal update last week boosted the budget for the program to $82.3 billion from $45 billion in a sign of impending changes and an extension beyond this summer.

Morneau says the program will now end Dec. 19.

He’s hoping the extension will give companies confidence to rehire workers, knowing what the rules are and that the program will be around for longer.

The most recent federal figures for the program show the government has given almost $20.4 billion in payroll help to about 262,200 companies.

The government’s proposed changes to the wage subsidy are part of a bill that will be debated next week when the House of Commons sits.

he Bloc Quebecois says it’ll support a bill to extend the federal emergency wage subsidy and make payments to people with disabilities to help with COVID-19 costs when the House of Commons meets on Monday.

In a statement, party House leader Alain Therrien said the measures proposed by the Liberal government are in keeping with demands the Bloc has made.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Friday the Liberals want to give wage supports to a wider range of businesses.

He said that should allow them to operate with more confidence in the pandemic even if trade is slow, but said he will ramp those supports down quickly through the autumn.

The payments of up to $600 to people with disabilities to help with increased costs for things like prescriptions and deliveries were included in a bill the Liberals couldn’t get any other party to vote for in June.

The Bloc’s support means the new bill is all but certain to pass.

Therrien’s statement says the Bloc would also have liked to see an end to the $500-a-week Canada Emergency Response Benefit and for political parties to give up the wage subsidy, but it won’t let that stand in the way of measures his party supports.

 

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