COVID-19 wage-subsidy program to be extended beyond June, says Trudeau

New Statistics Canada numbers show the country lost almost two million jobs during the month of April - a record high

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be extended beyond June, with more details to come next week. He urged businesses who had to let go of employees to apply for the subsidy and try to bring them back.

When asked about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Trudeau said this aid is in place longer than the wage subsidy and the federal government will continue to adjust the delivery of these mechanisms to Canadians.

“We recognize that as the economy starts to open, people will start to get back to work,” Trudeau said, adding that they may move from the CERB to the wage subsidy.

Additionally, Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, will lead a new industry strategy council to take a deeper look into how the pandemic is impacting certain sectors and how they can be supported.

The program covers 75 per cent of worker pay up to $847 a week to try to help employers keep employees on the job in the face of steep declines in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Since it launched last week employers have applied for subsidies for almost two million workers. And as provinces and territories start to gradually reopen over the coming months and the (Canadian Emergency Response Benefit) becomes less and less needed, this subsidy will play an even greater role,” Trudeau said in his daily news conference Friday.

More details on the extension of the wage subsidy will come next week, but Trudeau said the purpose of the program is to help kickstart the economy and boost jobs.

This announcement comes as new Statistics Canada data shows the Canadian economy lost almost two million jobs in April, a record high, as the closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 forced businesses to shutter temporarily.

The loss of 1,993,800 comes on top of more than one million jobs lost in March, and millions more having their hours and incomes slashed.

The unemployment rate soared to 13 per cent as the full force of the pandemic hit, compared with 7.8 per cent in March, Statistics Canada reported Friday morning, as the full force of the pandemic hit.

It was the second-highest unemployment rate on record as job losses spread beyond the service sector to include construction and manufacturing.

In March, health restrictions forced the closure of non-essential businesses, leading to layoffs and cuts in work hours as companies tried to manage costs without enough or any revenue coming in.

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