Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison is venting frustration over a six-week delay for Canadians to access an emergency wage subsidy provided by the federal government due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced that companies and employees will be eligible for a wage subsidy of up to 75 per cent, along with a slew of other emergency actions to blunt the economic impacts caused by the pandemic.
However, Finance Minister Bill Morneau admitted the funds won’t be available until approximately six weeks, during a press conference on Wednesday.
“I was very disappointed to find out that the government lacked a plan to move these resources out to small businesses and into the hands of the workers they employ,” said Morrison, in a statement. “The news of a six week delay is not appropriate under the circumstances and will be the cause for more layoffs and the unnecessary closure of businesses.
“All we are asking for is a plan to move these funds into the small business community and instead we received an apology from Deputy Minister Chrystia Freeland. The workers and small business owners in Kootenay-Columbia cannot pay their rent with an apology. They need relief and they need it now.”
For additional relief, the federal government has also announced the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, which will provide $2,000 a month for four months. That process is expected to be available for applications on April 6.
Provincially, British Columbia has also announced relief for renters and landlords, offering up to $500 a month for three months, which is being distributed through BC Housing. The province has also frozen rent increases and placed a moratorium on evictions.
A one-time $1,000 benefit available for people who have lost income because of COVID-19 is also available through the provincial government’s support package.