After a weekend of intense lobbying, Canadian new-vehicle dealers were breathing a sigh of relief when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday his government’s new coronavirus-related wage subsidy would be tied to lost sales, not employer size.
Dealers sent more than 1,000 letters to their MPs over the weekend raising concerns they wouldn’t qualify for the program announced Friday if it was limited to small and mid-size business with less than $15 million in capital assets, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association said.
But on Monday, CADA was declaring victory after Trudeau announced Ottawa’s new 75-per-cent wage subsidy would be open to any employer that had lost at least 30 per cent of its sales due to the massive economic shutdown caused by COVID-19.
The new rules mean any dealer, even those in large ownership groups, could qualify for assistance, CADA noted.
“We will continue to fight on behalf of dealers, to ensure that they are able to stay open for business, employ hard-working Canadians, and continue to serve customers long after the health pandemic is over,” CADA President Tim Reuss vowed in a statement.
The new Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy would cover any employer of any size up to $847 per employee per week if they could show sales had plunged by at least 30 per cent during the massive economic shutdown prompted by COVID-19, Trudeau said.
As previously announced, the benefit would be retroactive to March 15, he said.
“We know what businesses are going through. Over the past weeks you’ve had to get creative to keep money coming in and, in some cases, you’ve had to make the difficult decision of letting your employees go,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister warned there will be serious consequences for businesses that attempt to cheat or abuse the system, CADA noted. All businesses that can should, if possible, top up the remaining 25 per cent, Trudeau also said.
The prime minister also emphasized the good faith nature of this fast- moving approach, CADA said.
The wage subsidy is part of a larger business support program that includes deferred GST/HST, increased liquidity access for small businesses, and a workshare program, CADA noted.
The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy replaces a previously announced 10-per-cent wage subsidy that would have been available only to small- and medium-size businesses with less than $15 million in capital assets, a threshold few Canadian car dealers could meet.