Wage Subsidy Program available to all businesses and cost $71 billion: Canada Finance Minister Bill Morneau

On Wednesday Afternoon, Finance Minister Bill Morneau spoke to Canadians from Toronto’s City Hall providing further details about the upcoming wage subsidy program. 

The Finance Minister encouraged businesses to rehire employees that may have been laid off during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and reassuring businesses that the wage subsidy will be available in six weeks. 

“My message to Canada’s employers is this: get ready to rehire people,” said the Finance Minister.

Finance Minister restated that employers will be eligible for the program if they see a revenue decrease of at least 30 per cent compared to the same month last year. Should a company be eligible, the government will be covering 75 per cent of the first $58,700 of salary, which when calculated into a weekly pay, the wage subsidy program will be paying $847 per employee each week. 

While it was previously announced that the wage subsidy program was planned for small to medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs, Finance Minister Bill Morneau stated that the program will now be open and available for all businesses large and small including non-profit organizations. 

Minister Morneau mentioned that this new wage subsidy program will cost about $71 billion but will reduce the anticipated cost of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to $24 billion. 

Minister Morneau also emphasized that the system and the wage subsidy program operates on a high trust system and warned Canadians that there are “severe consequences” for anyone who attempts to abuse or defraud the program. 

The online application portal for the program should be up and running in about three to six weeks.

Businesses receiving the wage subsidy are expected to top up the remaining 25 per cent of employees’ wages if they are able.

Canadians can begin applying for CERB on April 6 through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website. 

 The online portal to apply for the benefits will work on a system ordered by birthdates:

  • People born in January through March can apply on April 6
  • People born in April through June on April 7, 
  • Those born in July through September on April 8, and 
  • Those born October through December on April 9.

There has been an unprecedented wave of applications for EI benefits. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said there have been 2.1 million applications in the last two weeks. In 2018-2019, there were 2.1 million EI recipients for the entire year.

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