MEMBER UPDATE: March 30, 1:00PM

New Provincial Webpage for COVID-19 Reporting

This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced businesses and non-profit organizations with at least a 30 per cent drop in revenue from COVID-19 will qualify for the government's 75 per cent wage subsidy program.

Details on where to apply for the program will be available later today.

The number of people a business employs will not determine its eligibility: the program could mean payments of up to $847 a week —the prime minister encouraged businesses to top up their employees’ wages with the remaining 25 per cent of their salaries.

New measures should help small businesses avoid layoffs or closures because of economic uncertainty caused by the global pandemic. The prime minister said the wage subsidies will be retroactive to March 15, 2020.

The government previously announced a 10 per cent wage subsidy for businesses, but Trudeau acknowledged that was not enough. The government also promised to guarantee loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses which will be interest-free for the first year, as a way to help businesses "bridge to better times." Under certain conditions, up to $10,000 of the loans could be non-repayable.

Trudeau also announced that GST and HST payments, as well as duties and taxes owed on imports, will be deferred until June, which he said amounts to $30 billion in interest-free loans to businesses.

Canadians who don't qualify for EI can soon apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which offers income support for up to 16 weeks to those who lose their jobs, get sick, go into quarantine or have to stay home because of school closures.

The benefit amounts to about $2,000 a month. The government has said an application portal run by the Canada Revenue Agency will be set up in early April — possibly by April 6 — and payments should flow about 10 days later.