Ottawa, May 16 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his government’s wage subsidy program for employees in businesses hit hard by COVID-19 will last until the end of August.
“Business owners: please take confidence from this announcement. You have some runway to catch your breath as you get restarted, so please, bring back your workers,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.
The subsidy, designed to incentivize employers to keep staff on the payroll or bring back those who were laid off, was initially meant to cost 73 billion Canadian dollars (about US $52 billion).
So far, 3.4 billion Canadian dollars reportedly have been spent on wage subsidy by more than 120,000 companies.
The subsidy covers 75 percent of wages for employers that have seen sharp declines in revenue since the pandemic hit Canada hard in March, or up to 847 Canadian dollars per worker per week.
It was set to expire in the first week of June and now is extended by an additional 12 weeks to August 29.
Trudeau also announced that his government is to provide 450 million Canadian dollars as temporary wage assistance for medical researchers. This money will be going to universities and affiliated research institutes that have been affected by the pandemic.