Carla Qualtrough called it the single most impactful decision that is going to lead Canada beyond COVID-19 and help restore the economic stability in the country.
Delta’s MP was responding to Monday’s announcement that the federal government is changing course on its 75 per cent wage subsidy, revealing businesses both large and small are eligible for the program if their revenue has declined 30 per cent.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program was originally aimed at helping small businesses keep workers on the payroll, but Ottawa will now cover up to 75 per cent on the first $58,700 an employee earns regardless of the size of the company he or she works for.
The revised wage subsidies will be backdated to March 15.
“What we really believe is that the more people can stay attached to their employment the easier it will on the other side of this to recover,” said Qualtrough in an interview with the Optimist following the announcement. “The less businesses go under, the less people are unemployed and go on EI, we need to keep businesses fluid and above water so as soon as this is over people can ramp up again.”
Qualtrough said business leaders were worried and expressed concerns over the previous federal funding support announcement.
“When we announced the initial 10 per cent that was not enough and as things have changed we have responded to that concern,” she said. “The feedback that I have received from local business leaders has been very positive. This will matter here in Delta. It is very hopeful for people that there are ways to keep everyone working so we can get through this.”
Delta Chamber of Commerce executive director Garry Shearer said the 75 per cent wage subsidy is a big step and promises to be a huge benefit to small businesses in Delta.
“The Canadian Chamber and our Chamber Network responded to the initial 10 per cent wage subsidy announcement with a message from our members that we need more,” he said. “The Canadian Emergency Relief Program for employees (EI benefits) will provide that important safety net for the loss of income for many, but the key to maintaining a strong economy and a healthy small business sector is keeping people employed.”
Ladner Business Association president Jill McKnight said the work being done by and the funding announcements from all levels of government are appreciated by the small business owners in Delta.
“As we learn more about the specific details, application requirements and application processes, I believe we will see a number of our local businesses actively engaging any support available to them,” said McKnight. “We do not fully know the impact of the 75 per cent wage subsidy being offered as it may not be as applicable for some of the retail and personal service businesses as having their employees working from home is not an option. We will need to see how this develops going forward.”
Michelle Barlow, executive director of the Tsawwassen Business Improvement Association, called the wage subsidy a ‘positive step forward for our local business community.’
“We are hopeful that this will allow many of our local businesses to retain their staff which will enable them to quickly resume business once our communities are given the green light to begin to resume our normal lives,” said Barlow. “However, many businesses that have let staff go have done so because they cannot continue to operate under the required guidelines from our health officials, like service industries and hair salons. The question could become not if they can bring back staff, but if there will be a business to return to.”