03/24/2020 11:23 EDT | Updated 03/24/2020 11:26 EDT

Canada's Coronavirus Wage Subsidies Too Little To Help, Business And Labour Groups Say

The United Kingdom has announced 80-per-cent wage subsidies, while the Liberals' stimulus package offers 10 per cent.

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Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz (right) and Finance Minister Bill Morneau at a news conference on Parliament Hill, March 18, 2020. Business groups and union leaders are calling on the federal government to bring in much more generous wage subsidies.

OTTAWA ― The federal government’s planned wage subsidy for businesses hit hard by COVID-19 is being panned this morning by a voice for thousands of small businesses and a major union.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the United Steelworkers union, in separate statements, say the Liberals’ proposed help to offset payroll costs doesn’t go far enough to save jobs.

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The federal government’s stimulus bill contains provisions for a 10 per cent wage subsidy for 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per business.

The CFIB is calling on the government to increase the subsidy to 75 per cent, capped monthly at $5,000 per worker, while the Steelworkers want it increased to 80 per cent as is being done in the U.K. France, Germany, Italy and Spain have also announced wage subsidies of various kinds.

The small business group says about one-third of its members are worried that they won’t survive more than a month under the current economic conditions.

CFIB says most of its members have seen a sharp drop in sales, up to 75 per cent in some cases, with the average hit around $136,000.

― With a file from HuffPost Canada