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Canadian Parliament Approves Extension, Amendment to $62 Billion COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Program

© AFP 2023 / Emma McIntyreRoy Thompson Hall and the CN Tower in Toronto
Roy Thompson Hall and the CN Tower in Toronto - Sputnik International
TORONTO (Sputnik) - Canada’s House of Commons has approved the Trudeau government’s proposed extension and an amendment to the Emergency Wage Subsidy in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, House Speaker Anthony Rota said at the conclusion of the parliamentary session.

With the new provisions and adjustments, the program is expected to cost taxpayers $62.12 billion in the fiscal year 2020-21.

“Bill C-20 - an Act respecting further COVID-19 measures - is deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, deemed read a third time, and passed”, Rota said on Tuesday.

The bill will now go to the Senate for approval and will have to receive royal assent from Governor General Julie Payette before it becomes law.

The extension means that eligible businesses will receive the wage subsidy until 19 December. The adjustments expand eligibility criteria for businesses, with the subsidy payments being calculated as a percentage of revenue decline as opposed to a meeting a hard threshold.

Previously, only those businesses that saw revenues drop by at least 15 percent in March and 30 percent thereafter could apply to receive 75 percent wage subsidies.

The government took to amending the program following a slow rollout of the initially allotted $51.5 billion program. As of July 13, government data shows that employers have tapped only into $15.1 billion.

Underlining the initial inefficacy of the wage subsidy is the huge discrepancy between the use of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Emergency Wage Subsidy. More than $44.16 billion has been distributed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit - a $1,400 benefit for workers who have had their income streams affected by the pandemic - despite the initial cost of the program being set at $18.14 billion.

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