Federal government approves $73-billion wage subsidy legislation

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Desperately needed aid for Canadian businesses and their workers to help ease the financial devastation caused by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is on the way. The federal government’s $73-billion wage subsidy legislation received royal assent last Saturday after being passed by the House of Commons during a rare emergency sitting. Ottawa will now pay companies 75% of the first $58,700 earned by each employee – up to $847 per week for up to 12 weeks. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added that “this the most significant economic program since World War Two.” The aid will be retroactive to March 15, 2020 and will be available to companies that lost 15% of their revenue in March, or 30% of their revenue in April or May.

The emergency sitting saw MPs applauding the quick collaboration between parliamentarians of all political views. The legislation cleared both chambers of Parliament after days of negotiations between the government and opposition parties, and received royal assent from Governor General Julie Payette shortly after 9:30 pm (EST) on Saturday, April 11. The opposition Conservatives, however, said that they still have some issues with the implementation of the wage subsidy, but agreed to waive normal parliamentary procedures to get the legislation through the House of Commons in a single day, to allow bureaucrats to start sending money to businesses in need as soon as possible.