The federal government is introducing a 75 per cent wage subsidy for companies of any size, charities and non-profits that have seen at least a 30 per cent drop in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy applies to the first $58,700 of an employee’s earnings, up to $847 per week. The goal of the subsidy, which will last three months and is retroactive to March 15, 2020, is to allow employers to retain their staff during the pandemic.
“For people to get through this tough time and for the economy to rebound, people have to keep their jobs,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his daily press briefing on Monday.
Trudeau said the number of employees a company has won’t determine whether they receive support from the government. “Every business of every size is having to make some difficult decisions because of COVID-19. And that’s why the number of employees is not the eligibility criteria that we’ve chosen. This is in line with best practices we’ve observed in other countries.”
However, Trudeau warned employers against attempting to “game” the system, noting there will be penalties for those caught abusing it, though he didn’t provide further details on what the oversight system would look like. “We are trusting you to do the right thing,” he said. “If you think this is a system you can take advantage of or game, don’t. There will be serious consequences for those who do. This unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented action. And it calls for good faith and trust between everyone involved.”
Trudeau also called on employers to pay their employees’ full salaries if they have the means to do so. And he encouraged businesses that qualify for the subsidy to top-up the remaining 25 per cent of employees’ pay where possible and to re-hire any workers who were laid off in the past two weeks.