Federal finance minister says employee wage subsidy will be available in six weeks

The federal government has announced more details into the employee wage subsidy Wednesday afternoon.

Finance minister Bill Morneau says the employee wage subsidy will be open to all businesses who lost at least 30 percent of their revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The subsidy will help pay for 75% of impacted wages up to the $58,700 threshold.

Morneau said employers will need to show that they are doing what they can to pay the remaining 25%.

“We know that this may not always be possible, (but) the system will be flexible,” Morneau said. “What’s most important is that Canadians can come back to work.

“My message to Canada’s employers is this: ‘get ready to rehire people.’”

Morneau echoed the prime minister’s message to employers who may be looking to game this system for their own gain.

“If, in this time of crisis, anyone attempts to use this money for fraudulent purposes, they will face severe penalties,” Morneau said. “This is a high-trust system we’re putting in place, but we’re taking decisive action against anyone who breaks that trust.”

Morneau said businesses will need to show they have lost 30 percent of revenue to be eligible.

“In the case of most businesses, what will happen is we will just ask them to show that the revenue has gone down by 30% or more,” Morneau said. “They’ll compare march 2020 against March 2019 to show us that that’s actually been the case to show that they qualify.”

Morneau says this program will cost the federal government $71 billion.

He adds the funding will be available in six weeks time.

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