OTTAWA — The Federal Government’s emergency wage-subsidy program is being extended beyond June. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, which covers 75 per cent of employees’ pay up to $847, was introduced to help employers who are facing plummeting revenues due to pandemic measures keep their workers on the payroll for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

The program was set to end June 6 but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday he’ll offer more details about the extension this week.

News of the extension comes as new Statistics Canada numbers show the country lost almost two-million jobs during the month of April. The agency’s Labour Force Survey data, released Friday, estimates the total number of jobs lost during the crisis at more than three million.

Following the announcement, Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released a statement applauding the move.

“This was one of the top recommendations CFIB shared with all MPs in correspondence [last] week. I give credit to the government for listening carefully to the concerns of small businesses who were worried this needed support would run out before many are even able to reopen their doors.”

With the shut-down now approaching the start of a third month, Kelly said it’s important to remember only 20 per cent of Canada’s small businesses are fully open. “Most businesses that were forced to lay off staff at the beginning of the crisis will not be in a position to rehire and use the program until they are able to resume operations,” the statement read. “As provinces are just now beginning to allow some businesses to carefully reopen, the CEWS program will become an important part of a recovery plan. Extending the program beyond June 6 will allow more firms to rehire staff as they re-open but face very thin revenues in early months.”


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