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Prime Minister’s remarks to workers and business owners facing challenges due to COVID-19

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Hello everyone.

Thank you for joining us.

To fight COVID-19, we are asking everyone to stay home as much as possible.

But these recommendations have meant a slowdown for businesses. Some have even had to close up shop.

This is worrying, not just for entrepreneurs and business owners, but also for your employees, who need their paycheque to make ends meet.

That’s why we launched a three-point plan to protect jobs, help those who have been laid off, and support businesses that are having cash-flow problems.

But we know that for a lot of people, their main priority is to keep getting paid.

So last week, we announced a wage subsidy to encourage employers to keep their employees.

To help employers keep people on the payroll, we announced that the government would subsidize up to 75 per cent of wages for qualifying businesses.

We know what businesses are going through.

Over the past few weeks, you’ve had to get creative to keep money coming in.

And in some cases, you’ve had to make the difficult decision of letting your employees go.

For people to get through this tough time and for the economy to rebound, people have to keep their jobs, so we announced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

I said last week that we would have more details to share and that’s the first thing I want to talk with you about today.

If your business’s revenues have decreased by at least 30 per cent because of COVID-19, you’ll be eligible for this subsidy.

The number of employees you have will not determine whether or not you get this support.

It will apply to non-profit organizations and charities, as well as companies both big and small.

This is about making sure that people are still getting paid whether they work for a business that employs 10 people or 1,000 people.

So, here’s what this means for workers: if you work for a company that has been impacted by COVID-19, the government will cover up to 75 per cent of your salary on the first $58,700 that you earn.

That means up to $847 a week.

And as I mentioned on Friday, this will be backdated to March 15.

This subsidy will make a real difference in your lives, and help everyone affected bridge to better times.

In Quebec, it’s going to help trucking and logistics company Energy Transportation Group to stay in business, so they can keep moving essential goods like food and toilet paper.

In Calgary, it will give a little breathing room to the Benj Hair Salon, which had to close shop to protect the health and safety of their clients.

Minister Morneau and Minister Ng are working hard to give companies the background documents explaining the technical details of this measure. And on that note, I want to thank the public service, who is working around the clock to get this done.

This subsidy is first and foremost about you – about hard-working employees across the country.

It’s about making sure you have money to buy groceries right now and a job to come back to later, once we’re through this.

Every business of every size is having to make some difficult decisions because of COVID-19 and that’s why the number of employees is not the eligibility criteria we’ve chosen.

This is in line with best practices we’ve observed in other countries.

That said, I want to offer a word of caution to businesses.

We are trusting you to do the right thing.

If you have the means to pay the remaining 25 per cent that’s not covered by the subsidy, please do so.

And if you think this is a system you can take advantage of or game, don’t.

There will be serious consequences for those who do.

This unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented action.

And it calls for good faith and trust between everyone involved.

We are in this together and that’s why our government is stepping up to help all employers keep their employees.

But for this to work, everyone has to do their part.

Every dollar of this should go to workers.

You should make every effort to top up their wages and every effort to hire back those workers who have been laid off in the past two weeks because of COVID-19.

That’s why we set up a comprehensive 3-point plan to support everyone across the economy weather the storm and come roaring back.

With the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, we’re protecting jobs.

With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, we’re helping those who lose their job.

And with easy, guaranteed loans for businesses of all sizes, we’re helping people who need it access credit.

Additionally, to give you more time to pay your bills or more money for your daily expenses, we will defer GST and HST payments, as well as duties and taxes owed on imports, until June.

Since the beginning of this crisis, our top priority is to get you the help you need.

To do that, our government must be ready for every scenario.

Over the past few weeks, the Canadian Armed Forces have been gearing up to support our efforts and our communities as we fight COVID-19.

Our women and men in uniform have always been there for Canadians in their time of need and this pandemic is no exception.

For the moment, the federal government has not received any requests to intervene from the provinces or territories.

But if that changes, the Canadian Armed Forces will be ready to answer the call, as they have done throughout our history.

Whether to transport medical supplies or to protect our homes during flood and forest fire seasons, those who wear this uniform will be there for you.

They have a plan to support our communities during this difficult time.

At noon, several ministers and the Chief of the Defence Staff will hold a media availability to discuss this further.

We will also discuss emergency preparedness with the premiers during our next virtual meeting.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the members of our armed forces for their hard work and their service.

You are always ready to help, and we greatly appreciate everything you do for us.

I know we’re all looking forward to the day when things are back to normal, but for that to happen, we all need to keep taking the right steps today.

It means following public health recommendations.

You know the drill.

Stay home as much as possible, wash your hands often, and keep at least 2 metres from each other.

And our government will keep doing everything we can to make sure workers are getting paid and companies are supported.

The measures we’ve announced will help do just that and ensure that our economy is well positioned to recover from this.

We’re going through a tough time right now, all together, but you know your government has your back.

And as always, if we need to do more, we will do more.

I want to close this morning by thanking all first responders across the country who are doing an incredible job for all Canadians. Medical professionals, first responders, custodial staff, farmers, people who work along the supply chain – thank you.

Going to work right now is stressful and I know you’re worried.

But we are doing everything we can to keep you safe.

You are doing essential work and we cannot thank you enough.

As always, Canada and Canadians will get through this by leaning on each other and everyone doing their part.

Thank you very much, my friends.