OTTAWA, March 30 (Reuters) - A Canadian government program to help businesses pay wages during the coronavirus outbreak applies to all enterprises and charities with a revenue loss of 30% or more, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.
Trudeau, who said last week that Ottawa would cover up to 75% of the wages of people working for small and medium enterprises, made clear the aid would not depend on a business’ size. It will, though, be capped at C$847 a week per worker.
The announcement marks the latest move by the Liberal government to step up the fight against the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes.
Trudeau, speaking to reporters outside his residence in Ottawa, did not say how much the revised aid package would cost. Finance Minister Bill Morneau will give more details on Tuesday.
“If your business’ revenues have decreased by at least 30% because of COVID-19, you will be eligible for this subsidy. The number of employees you have will not determine whether or not you get this support,” Trudeau said.
“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,” he added. The program will also apply to non-profit organizations and charities.
The number of cases in Canada rose to 6,671 from 6,258 on Sunday, while the death toll climbed to 66 from 63, medical officials said on Monday.
Trudeau - repeating that “if we need to do more, we will do more” - said businesses would face unspecified serious consequences if they tried to take advantage of the program.
“This unprecedented situation calls for unprecedented action and it calls for good faith and trust,” he said.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the expanded program would “be a significant relief for tens of thousands of employers and hundreds of thousands of employees.”
Trudeau reaffirmed a commitment to help hard-hit sectors such as the airline and energy industries but gave no details. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Richard Chang)
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