FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Editor’s note: The details have now been released. You can read the story here: Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for another six weeks.

Canadians won’t get any details Tuesday (March 31) about the eagerly awaited wage subsidy program announced on Friday (March 27), despite the prime minister’s promise of more details.

The recently announced wage subsidy for COVID-19 affected businesses has expanded to all Canadian companies and charities that have seen at least a 30 per cent drop in revenues, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Canadians Monday.

Trudeau made the announcement from the steps of Rideau Cottage on Monday (March 30), where he remains in self-isolation. Finance Minister Bill Morneau was expected to announce details and costs Tuesday, but that press conference has been moved to Wednesday.

Companies who qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be able to get 75 per cent of each employee’s salary covered, on the first $58,700 earned this year, Trudeau said. This amounts to a maximum $847 per week, he noted. The program will be backdated to March 15.

“The number of employees you have will not determine whether or not you get this support,” he said. “It will apply to non-profit organizations and charities, as well as companies both big and small.”

Trudeau urged companies that could top up employee salaries the additional 25 per cent to do so.

“We are trusting you to do the right thing,” he said.

The prime minister said there would be “serious consequences” for any companies that try to game the system, although he did not expand on what that would entail. A verification system will be set up before the program is rolled out and Trudeau said Finance Minister Bill Morneau would announce more details on Tuesday (March 31).

The wage subsidy is one of several programs introduced by the federal government. Trudeau has also promised $2,000 to coronavirus-affected workers who have been laid off, or cannot work, due to the pandemic. That application portal is scheduled to be available on April 6.

Trudeau said more measures to help business could be unveiled as the situation unfolds but did not commit to specific aid to help businesses pay rent on April 1.

At a press conference following the prime minister’s address, Deputy Minister Chrystia Freeland said Ottawa was working hard to work out any issues.

“I really apologize, sincerely, for some of the kinks in these systems,” Freeland said.

As of Monday morning, there were 6,671 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 66 deaths in Canada. There have been more than 220,000 tests done.

READ MORE: Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

READ MORE: Trudeau unveils new $2,000 per month benefit to streamline COVID-19 aid


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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