04/27/2020 13:37 EDT | Updated 04/27/2020 13:47 EDT

Wage-Subsidy Program Saw Almost 10,000 Applications In Opening Hours: PM

Money from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is expected to flow on May 7.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in Ottawa on April 27, 2020.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says nearly 10,000 businesses have applied for the federal government’s wage-subsidy program to help them deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergency measure will cover 75 per cent of wages for employers that have seen sharp declines in revenue since the novel coronavirus hit Canada hard in March, up to $847 per worker.

Applications opened early this morning and payments can be retroactive to the middle of March.

Trudeau says money under the program will start flowing by May 7.

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It may take longer for the money to arrive for companies that aren’t signed up for direct deposit with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Survey results released this morning by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small businesses in the country, suggests that half will apply for the wage subsidy.

In a release, the CFIB says many companies still have questions about what wages can be covered, who is eligible and how to bring back laid-off employees before receiving the subsidy payments.

Officials have been unable to say how many workers currently receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit may be rehired through the wage subsidy, but Trudeau is reminding workers they can’t receive financial help from both programs at the same time.

What that means if that some people may have to pay back whatever they received through the $2,000-a-month CERB if the wage subsidy covers the same time period.

So far, the CERB has paid out $24.25 billion in payments to 7.28 million unique applicants for the program, based on the latest figures posted this morning by the federal government.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2020.