Indigo Books & Music taps Canada's relief program, rehires 545 staff

(Reuters) - Bookstore chain Indigo Books & Music Inc IDG.TO said on Monday that it rehired about 545 of its retail staff, two weeks after the Canadian government announced subsidies to help businesses pay wages amid the coronavirus crisis

The company temporarily closed its stores on March 17 and laid off 5,200 of its retail employees on a short-term basis, it said.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a “material” impact on financials for fiscal 2021, Indigo said, but did not quantify the hit due to uncertainties.

The Canadian government recently unveiled a wage subsidy program, known as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), that would cover up to 75% of the workers’ wages for employers of all sizes who had suffered revenue declines of 30% or more due to the pandemic.

The CEWS aims to help employers keep and return Canadian-based employees to payrolls for a period between March 15 to June 6, in response to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air Canada AC.TO last week said it planned to adopt the government's wage subsidy for its 36,000 Canada-based workforce, in a bid to keep its employees on payroll.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva