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 outside 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.
"We're thinking about that family-owned restaurant that's been around for years, [has] had many of the same employees for years. Employees who've been there through slowdowns, good times and bad times, and now in this moment of crisis they're having to lay these people off at their time of need," he said.
"We know that allowing people to continue that relationship, allow[ing] people to continue to feel and to know they have a job ... is a really important thing, not just for people's confidence, but for the ability of all us to bounce back strongly from this once we're through it."
The prime minister said the wage subsidies will be backdated to March 15, 2020.
At a time when many businesses are losing money, the government will also guarantee bank loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses which will be interest-free for the first year. Trudeau said the program will 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.
"If you're struggling to get by right now and you have a payment due at the end of the quarter, we're going to give you more time. It will also allow you to keep the money that you would have sent to the government and use it instead for your immediate needs," he said.
The government will also only collect taxes on the incoming Canada Emergency Response Benefit if and when recipients recover their incomes, Trudeau said. The benefits are set up to provide $2,000 per month to people who stop getting paid because of the pandemic.
Ottawa to roll out wage subsidies for employers just two days after Parliament approved huge COVID-19 rescue package
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had earlier announced a 10 per cent wage subsidy to help keep employees on the payroll.