Federal government’s $73 billion wage subsidy bill gets passed

Ottawa will pay companies 75 per cent of an employee's wages for up to 12 weeks

There was some negotiating and give and take but every MP in Ottawa wore the same political stripes when it came to passing the Trudeau government’s $73 billion wage subsidy bill to help companies blunt the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only a handful of MPs attended the rare emergency Saturday sitting, to respect physical distancing, and all the main party leaders were in the House of Commons.

Businesses hoping to see the money flow won’t have cash in hand for at least two weeks minimum, possibly five weeks at the most.

Ottawa will pay companies 75 per cent of the first $58,700 earned by each employee–up to nearly $900 per week for up to three months. The program is retroactive to March 15 and available to businesses that lost 15 per cent of their revenue in March or 30 per cent in April or May.

Prime Minister Trudeau said the economic investment was the most significant since the Second World War.

Conservatives got behind the bill after leader Andrew Scheer said his party’s support for the legislation was conditional on the government agreeing to more accountability measures–such as allowing more parliamentary committees to meet throughout the pandemic.