By Andru McCracken
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced what could be the biggest social program in the history of the country: a 75% wage subsidy for every employee in the country regardless of the size of the business they work for.
Trudeau said that by keeping employees on the payroll the Canadian economy would be able to come ‘roaring back to life’ when the measures to prevent the spread of COVID 19 end.
The focus appears to be getting money out the door instead of introducing new layers of bureaucracy to determine who is eligible. If a business’s or non-profit’s bottom line has been hit by at least 30%, they are eligible.
“It’s about making sure you have money to buy groceries right now and a job to get to,” said Trudeau on Monday.
What this means for people who are self-employed wasn’t immediately apparent though further program details were due to be revealed later in the week. Check the Goat’s website for breaking news.
Trudeau is asking businesses to honour the intent of the program and not game the system.
“If you take advantage of the program for gain there will be serious consequences,” said Trudeau. “We are trusting you to do the right thing.”
He also suggested that businesses who had laid off staff were welcome to hire them back.
He said this was one part of a three-point plan.
The other two parts are the Canada Emergency Response benefit for people who have lost their job due to the crisis and easy low- or no-interest loans for businesses.
Trudeau said that the federal government is already coordinating with the provinces around forest fires and flooding.
“Your government has your back,” said Trudeau. “If we need to do more, we will do more.”
He then thanked a wide swath of Canadians including farmers, truckers, grocers, first responders and health care workers.
“As always, Canada and Canadians will get through this leaning on each other, everyone doing their part,” he said.
Trudeau didn’t have an answer for the impact on the federal treasury.
“Our focus is on making sure Canadians keep their jobs and keep paycheques rolling in,” he said.
“We have one of the best balance sheets in the G7 and we have money set aside for a rainy day. Well, now it’s raining.”