Canada proposing to expand emergency wage subsidy program: finance minister

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Minister of Finance Bill Morneau speaks in the House of Commons as legislators convene to give the government power to inject billions of dollars in emergency cash to help individuals and businesses through the economic crunch caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada April 11, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government wants to expand an emergency wage subsidy program so that all businesses suffering losses from the coronavirus outbreak will benefit, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Friday.

Morneau told a news conference that Ottawa would drop an earlier requirement stipulating that businesses needed to show a 30% drop in revenue to be eligible. The changes will come into effect in July and will run to Dec 19, he added.

Some firms had complained the eligibility rules were too onerous and could prevent them from fully reopening for fear they would lose access to the subsidy.

“(It’s) critical that we have businesses able to continue to hire people even as they get into the restart and we know the requirement that businesses have a 30% reduction in revenue is not helpful,” said Morneau.

“Businesses will get the wage subsidy if they have had any reduction in revenue. ... It broadens the number of organizations and helps them to restart.”

Morneau also said firms which had suffered more than a 50% loss of revenue would get an additional subsidy of up to 25%. Canada has provided more than C$212 billion ($156.22 billion) in direct COVID-19 aid for those hit by the outbreak and nearly 14% of gross domestic product in total support.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Richard Chang