Hours after the launch of the main wage subsidy program on Monday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that about 10,000 companies have already applied, and the government expects hundreds of thousands more as businesses work. the whole country is waiting for the green light to reopen gradually.
“It gives you an idea of the number of people this program will help. Across the country, this will keep businesses and workers connected. And it gives people the certainty that they will have jobs now and in the months to come to support themselves and their families, “said Trudeau, while continuing to point out that even if discussions about the recovery and the functioning of the economy are underway. , the timing remains unknown and depends on the flattening of the COVID-19 curve.
Praising the long-awaited, newly opened program in his daily COVID-19 speech, Trudeau said that the first payments covering 75% of an employee’s first $ 58,700 in salary will reach businesses by May 7, they signed up. for direct deposit.
“We all know a local living room or a gym that had to close, a neighborhood restaurant or a shop that is really struggling. Most importantly, we all know the people who work there. They deserve a helping hand to get out of it. And that’s what this wage subsidy is for, “said Trudeau.
Trudeau had expanded the scope and eligibility of the program a few times since his first promise last month. It was passed by Parliament on April 11 and will provide up to $ 847 per week per employee for 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, for small and large businesses, as well as for charities.
Last week, a calculator was launched on the Canada Revenue Agency’s website so businesses can determine in advance how much they could claim. The CRA plans to batch requests from the first week to the end of the week.
Small Business Minister Mary Ng said that for requests requiring additional checks or more information from the employer, a secondary check would delay the initial funding sent up to 72 hours.
Trudeau said that to date there have been 300,000 views of the calculator online.
The Prime Minister called the $ 73 billion wage subsidy the largest economic program in Canadian history, and officials said they expected “hundreds of thousands” of claims to be made. that companies keep their employees pending the reopening of the economy.
Trudeau also emphasized that for Canadians whose workplaces cannot rehire them, or if they cannot find jobs due to the ongoing pandemic, they can then access the Canada Allowance for emergency measures, but people cannot claim both.
He warned that the funding will be recovered later if people have received more than they are entitled to.
“Because of the uncertainty, due to the application process, it is possible that people received both the CERB and the wage subsidy. In this case, they will have to reimburse one of them over the next few months. So people have to keep in mind that if you get both, you should probably put one aside, “said Trudeau.
To date, the government says it has received 7.28 million unique requests and almost 10 million requests in total. To date, $ 24.25 billion has been paid out of this $ 2,000-a-month benefit program to unemployed Canadians.
He also said talks are continuing with opposition parties on advancing legislation to adopt the new measures promised to students. Parliament has its first virtual session on Tuesday and the first weekly face-to-face meeting of a small number of MPs on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister did not say whether he intended to table what would constitute the third emergency bill during this week’s sitting.
Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters that his caucus had received the bill, was considering it, but said he had some concerns about the programs as offered, including whether they offered enough incentive for students to work this summer and if there are enough options to match young people with jobs related to their skills or their studies.
Over the weekend, Ontario unveiled its plan to supplement the salaries of some front-line workers, an offer made with assistance from the federal government. Trudeau said he would have more to say about similar aid in other provinces over the next few days as negotiations continue to pay more for essential workers on low incomes at this time.
The Prime Minister continues to wonder about the patchwork of economic reopening plans that are being rolled out across the country. Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have already refined their step-by-step approaches with loose timelines contingent on continued reduction in new cases of coronavirus.
Ontario and Quebec unveiled their initial economic and societal reopening plans on Monday, although those provinces continue to have the highest number of COVID-19 cases and have called on the military to help manage the many outbreaks in long-term care homes.
In Quebec, the plan calls for the reopening of elementary schools and daycares on May 11 if the state of COVID-19 in hospitals in the province remains stable, while in Ontario, the “roadmap” was published without specific date, but would select workplaces that can meet public health guidelines to reopen.
Trudeau continues to point out that reopening guidelines being developed with the provinces will need to take into account the developing understanding of immunity to the virus, as well as the need for adequate personal protective equipment for employees who work in close contact with other people.
He said the approaches are meant to be shared and accepted, and are not a federal edict. Details are expected to be released “in the coming days,” he said.
“Different provinces and territories may evolve at a different pace. But we need clear and coordinated efforts from coast to coast. And no matter where you live, you must continue to follow the recommendations of public health officials who will keep everyone safe, “he said, adding that the approach taken by the provinces and territories is consistent with reopening discussions. .
In addition, Trudeau warned that, as much as people want life to return to normal once known, this will not happen for some time.
“There will be differences, even in a few years, that we will have learned from the fight against this global pandemic,” said Trudeau.
At the time of Trudeau’s speech, there were 47,346 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 2,617 deaths.
According to federal projections and modeling released on April 9, according to current public health measures, up to 44,000 Canadians could die from COVID-19 in the coming months.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said late last week that they were ready to release updated models soon.