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Business, labour groups say Liberals' COVID-19 wage subsidy too little to help

Last Updated Mar 24, 2020 at 10:28 am EDT

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau arrives for a press conference on economic support for Canadians impacted by COVID-19, at West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — The federal government’s planned wage subsidy for businesses hit hard by COVID-19 is being panned this morning by a voice for thousands of small businesses and a major union.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the United Steelworkers union in separate statements say the Liberals’ proposed help to offset payroll costs doesn’t go far enough to save jobs.

The federal government’s stimulus bill contains provisions for a 10 per cent wage subsidy for 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per business.

The CFIB is calling on the government to increase the subsidy to 75 per cent, capped monthly at $5,000 per worker, while the Steelworkers want it increased to 80 per cent as is being done in the U.K.

The small business group says about one-third of its members are worried that they won’t survive more than a month under the current economic conditions.

CFIB says most of its members have seen a sharp drop in sales, up to 75 per cent in some cases, with the average hit around $136,000.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press