Parliament passes $73 Billion COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Bill in an all-party collaboration

This past Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer, and several Members of Parliament reconvened in the House of Commons to debate and eventually pass the federal government’s multi-billion-dollar wage subsidy legislation. 

The legislation, which will see qualified businesses receiving a 75% wage subsidy, cleared both chambers of Parliament after days of negotiations between the federal government and opposition parties. The resulting agreement to pass the wage subsidy bill will allow the flow of billions of dollars to companies during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. 

House Speaker Anthony Rota described the occasion as an “exceptional day in the midst of exceptional times” as MPs applauded and praised the collaboration between Members of Parliament from all political parties and affiliations. 

The wage subsidy bill has received the royal assent from Governor General Julie Payette at around 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time, which means it has been enacted and businesses can expect to apply for the wage subsidy program in the coming days. 

Brief Summary of Gaps Addressed in the Wage Subsidy Bill

Through the unanimous consent from all the parties at Parliament the following is a list of gaps that were addressed to fast-track passing the bill: 

  • Once an employer is eligible based on one month’s revenue, they automatically qualify for the next period and those going forward
  • Implementing measures without delay to address gaps in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), or other programs existing or proposed (which includes the wage subsidy program)
  • Bringing in the short-term further support measures for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada which will be partially non-refundable, aimed to keep jobs and reduce debt related to fixed costs

The mentioned wage subsidy program would provide businesses with a wage subsidy on 75% of employees’ salaries, providing up to $847 a week per employee for 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15. It will be available for all companies big and small as well as non-profit organizations such as charities. 

Through the wage subsidy program, the bill intends to keep as many Canadians employed as possible despite the deadly pandemic that is shutting down many aspects of society and the economy.

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