Liberals delay release of wage subsidy details

OTTAWA — Canadian businesses desperate for details about the federal government’s promised wage subsidy program will have to wait a little longer for answers.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his finance minister would lay out the details of the program during a briefing on Tuesday.

That never happened and now Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he and Small Business Minister Mary Ng will instead provide more details during a Wednesday briefing.

Small businesses have been anxious to see the fine print of the program since the Liberals expanded its eligibility and value in recent days.

Businesses of all sizes whose revenues have decreased by at least 30 per cent because of the COVID-19 pandemic are to be eligible for the subsidy, which is to be backdated to March 15.

It will cover 75 per cent of each employee’s wages, to a maximum of $847 a week. The Liberals had previously said the subsidy program would be good for three months.

Increasing the subsidy to 75 per cent from the originally proposed 10 per cent will increase direct financial aid from federal coffers to combat the shock from the pandemic.

Morneau is expected to provide a dollar figure for the promise.

TD Economics has previously estimated that the increase would cost about $25 billion, while RBC separately estimated its value at $28 billion.

The federal bailout package to date is now valued at more than $200 billion, including $52 billion in direct spending, $85 billion in tax deferrals for individuals and businesses, and $65 billion in loans.

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