Jagmeet Singh is promising a federal New Democratic Party government would provide more support for small businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, including paying bonuses to companies that hire new employees or bring back those who have been laid off.
Singh unveiled the promises during a campaign-style event in British Columbia earlier this week, less than a week after he said the New Democrats wouldn’t provoke an election as long as the pandemic persists. The federal NDP leader said last week that his party would support the minority Liberal government on confidence votes in the House of Commons during the pandemic. Parties are nonetheless preparing for an election that could come at any time.
The hiring bonus proposed by the NDP would see the federal government cover the portion of employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan contributions normally paid by employers for new staff or workers rehired after being laid off. The NDP didn’t provide an estimate for how much that or any of the other measures would cost.
The Liberal government announced in September it was freezing employment insurance rates for employers for the next two years due to the ongoing pandemic. The move was expected to save businesses and employees about $1 billion this year.
Singh also promised to extend the federal government’s existing wage subsidy, rent assistance and business loan programs until the end of the pandemic, while also making it easier for businesses to access those relief programs. The wage subsidy is set to expire in June, but the Liberal government has extended it several times since it was first unveiled last April.
Singh is also highlighting an earlier promise to impose what he describes as an “excess profit tax” on companies that have benefited during the pandemic, though the NDP has yet to provide details on how that would work. The NDP leader suggested the profit tax would be modelled after similar initiatives introduced during the two world wars and floated the idea of doubling the corporate tax rate on revenues “over what is normal.”