New $350M support fund for COVID-19 community programs, 75% wage subsidy launching April 27: PM Trudeau

As the number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 2.5 million around the world, and 38,206 in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today $350 million in new funding to help Canada’s most vulnerable and the launch of the highly anticipated 75% wage subsidy program. 

Earlier this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at his daily press conference new funding of $350 million in a new program titled the Emergency Community Support Fund. The funding will help charities and non-profit organizations continue to assist seniors, the homeless, people with disabilities and others made more vulnerable by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime minister Trudeau said more and more people need help due to the global pandemic and these organizations are struggling. The funds will support community groups through national organizations such as the United Way Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and the Community Foundations of Canada.

Charities and other non-profit organizations have faced a severe drop in donations, as donors are also financially affected by the ongoing global pandemic. Besides, due to public health measures, these non-profit organizations are unable to hold necessary fundraising events. 

Imagine Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing Canadian charities and non-profit organizations with programs, assistance, and resources, suggests that there will be a decline in donations of between $4.2 billion and $6.3 billion. Also, Imagine Canada suggests that between 117,000 and 195,000 workers could be laid off due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The funding announcement was made after the Prime Minister noted that organizations were pressured to adapt and change the way they deliver services as a result of public health measures. Unfortunately, in following these health measures vulnerable groups such as seniors were left without the programs that they previously relied on.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that the new funding will be used to support such activities as:

  • Volunteer-based home delivery of groceries and medications
  • Transportation services for vulnerable people such as seniors or persons with disabilities 
  • Helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits
  • Scaling up helplines that provide information and support
  • Delivering training and supplies to volunteers
  • Replacing in-person contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through telephone, texts, teleconferences or the Internet.

It is reported that much of the $350 million in funding will be flowing through three national groups to help Canada’s 86,000 registered charities. A smaller portion of the fund will also be allocated for smaller independent organizations. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that charities and non-profit organizations are doing tremendous work to meet the demands for their services. The new funding will go to small front-line organizations, as well as larger national groups “that can get the funds to local organizations and vulnerable people quickly” said the Prime Minister. 

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75% Wage Subsidy Program will launch April 27

The Prime Minister also provided brief updates regarding the highly anticipated wage subsidy program. At this time, he has said that employers will be able to apply for the program as of Monday, April 27.

The wage subsidy program, which had been passed in Parliament on April 11, will provide businesses a 75 per cent wage subsidy, covering up to $847 a week per employee for up to 12 weeks retroactive to March 15. Through the program, businesses big, small, and even non-profit organizations would be able to keep staff on payroll, keeping as many Canadians employed as possible during the pandemic. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that a new calculator is currently being developed on the Canada Revenue Agency website to help businesses determine the amount of funding they will be able to claim through the wage subsidy program. 

Relatedly, the $2000 a month Canada Emergency Response Benefit – CERB which assists Canadians who are out of work, or whose income has been reduced to below $1000/month has seen 8 million people applied.

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