Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced more help for small and medium-sized businesses to keep employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 crisis, including a 75 per cent wage subsidy and guaranteed interest-free loans.
During a news conference from his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Trudeau called small and medium-sized businesses the “backbone” of the economy and said the new measures will help them avoid ordering layoffs or closing down because of the climate of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
The prime minister said the wage subsidies will be backdated to March 15, 2020.
The government previously announced a 10 per cent wage subsidy for business. Today, Trudeau acknowledged that was not enough.
At a time when many businesses are losing money, the government will also guarantee loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses which will be interest-free for the first year.
Under certain conditions, up to $10,000 of the loans could be non-repayable.
Trudeau said details of the programs are still being worked out and that more information will be coming out between now and Monday.
“We’re helping companies keep people on the payroll so that workers are supported and the economy is positioned to recover from this. That is our priority,” he said.
Trudeau could not say precisely how long Canadians will have to stay home and practise physical distancing, but said actions taken now to flatten the curve of infections will help determine how long people remain “stuck” indoors.
“We know we’re talking about weeks and possibly months,” he said.