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

Just Posted

8-year-old Maple Ridge actor up for pair of national awards

Bentley Storteboom is nominated for Joey awards in commercial and film acting

Thanksgiving food drive nets new record for Maple Ridge food bank

More than 15,000 pounds, (6,800 kilograms), collected

Riders slow in returning to West Coast Express

TransLink bus ridership at 43 per cent of pre-COVID levels

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Sept. 27

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Racist, homophobic graffiti prominent in downtown Maple Ridge

City councillors up late removing hateful message

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Another death as COVID-19 outbreak at Delta Hospital climbs to 18 cases

Total of 12 patients and six staff in one unit have tested positive for COVID-19: Fraser Health

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Most Read