NDP leader Jagmeet Singh arrives to hold a press conference on Parliament Hill amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Monday May 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau, Singh pressed on parties’ decisions to access COVID-19 wage subsidy

All three parties have said donations have dropped further since the COVID-19 pandemic began

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced multiple questions Monday on why his party applied for a federal wage subsidy program for organizations facing economic hardship due to COVID-19.

The Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and the Greens have all applied for the program, which sees the government cover up to 75 per cent of a worker’s salary, to a maximum of $847 a week per employee.

The program is meant for companies that have suffered major losses of revenue as a result of the pandemic, though it also covers non-profits and charities.

Trudeau didn’t answer repeated questions about why his party needed to access that support, speaking only broadly about the aim of the program.

“We know families across the country depend on the jobs that they do to pay groceries, pay for the rent. That’s why we put in place a wage subsidy that is available to small businesses, large business, non-profits and charities to be able to support people who might otherwise be laid off,” he said.

“This is going to be an important part of the economy bouncing back.”

To be eligible, a company or organization must have seen its revenues from January and February decline by 15 per cent in March or 30 per cent in April and May.

In the first three months of 2020, the Conservatives raised around $3.8 million, the Liberals around $2.8 million and the NDP around $964,000.

The donations were down from the last non-election year, and all three have said they’ve dropped further since the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down the country in mid- to late March.

At the same times, costs continue to be incurred.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Monday they didn’t want their staff to lose their jobs.

“It was a simple decision when we saw loss of revenue at the party level and workers potentially being laid off, losing their jobs and having to go onto other programs like the CERB,” he said of his party’s choice to apply for the program.

“This is exactly what the wage subsidy is for, to ensure that workers remain connected to their jobs and we believe that’s important.”

Singh said the NDP will be topping up their staff salaries so their paycheques remain unchanged.

The Conservatives have said they applied as well to account for the higher costs incurred by the switch to off-site work.

The party also has a leadership contest under way.

Three out of the four contenders — Leslyn Lewis, Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole — have spoken out against the decision by the party to apply for the subsidy program.

O’Toole has said if he wins, the party won’t take the subsidy and will over time repay the amount collected.

Currently, the subsidy runs out on Aug. 29. The vote for Conservative leadership ends on Aug. 21, with the winner expected to be announced a few days later.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, whose party did not apply, called the decision to do so, by the Liberals and Conservatives in particular, unacceptable.

The programs were designed to help people facing bankruptcy, he said.

“This is funding the next campaign for the Liberals and the Conservatives,” he said.

The Canadian Press


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusJagmeet SinghJustin Trudeau

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Construction to begin on new $2M fire hall in Deep Bay

Long-term debt will be financed over a 20-year period

Parksville Royals hurler earns scholarship to Nebraska school

Frank came to mid-Island from Terrace to pursue baseball dreams

UPDATE: Vancouver Island skydiving community mourns loss of one of its own

James Smith, 34, of Victoria, dies in Nanoose Bay incident

Beloved Parksville volunteer awarded key to the city

July 6 (her 90th birthday) proclaimed as ‘Joan Lemoine Day’

Oceanside RCMP officers will not face charges following 2017 shooting that left man dead

Independent Investigations Office of B.C announces decision

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

B.C. tent camps persist as hotels, housing bought for homeless

Current estimate 40 camps, homeless counts stalled by COVID-19

Saanich junior hockey team drops Braves name, First Nations logo

Club moves on after 53-years with First Nations logo

VIDEO: Trio of orphaned Alberta grizzly bear cubs find new home at Vancouver zoo

The Alberta cubs’ mother was killed by hunters and would have otherwise been euthanized, zoo says

Most Read