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Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Last Updated Sep 23, 2020 at 3:08 pm EDT

Final preparations are made to the Senate in advance of the Speech From The Throne in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The Liberals are reversing course on a decision to wind down a federal wage subsidy, vowing in their throne speech to extend the program for businesses harmed by COVID-19 into next year.

Over the summer the government decided to start scaling back the program through the rest of the year by providing a smaller subsidy with each passing month.

Requirements were also eased to access the program.

But the Liberals were warned that small businesses that have used the program would need the help into 2021 as their revenues stayed low while costs remained steady.

Today, the Liberals’ throne speech promised to extend the subsidies to summer 2021, acknowledging the economic situation facing many employers is more fraught.

And for workers who lose their jobs, the throne speech also promises to  put everyone under the employment insurance system, making it the only vehicle for benefits for hard-hit workers even if they previously didn’t qualify for the decades-old program.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press