Air Canada : to use government subsidies to keep employees on payroll

Marco Green
April 8, 2020

Worldwide air travel has dropped to record lows, with passenger volumes at Canadian airports decreasing by 96 per cent year over year for the week starting March 30, despite thousands of travellers returning home on repatriation flights, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

"Businesses will only need to show a 15 per cent decline in revenue for March instead of 30 per cent because most of us only felt the impact of COVID-19 about halfway through the month", he said.

Air Canada said it intends to adopt the CEWS for the benefit of its 36,000 Canadian-based employees retroactively to March 15 and "return affected employees to its payroll for the Program Term".

Charities are also being granted the ability to choose whether or not to include government revenues in their calculations of lost revenue when applying.

A 75% wage subsidy touted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has caught the interest of the country's biggest airline, a request that could cost the government as much as C$30.5 million (about $22 million) a week.

He added they government aims to shorten the timeline for getting aid out to businesses, which now sits at three-to-six weeks.

Trudeau thanked stakeholders for their input in the billions of dollars of aid programs unveiled to date, saying they have helped to "refine" their approaches, making the assistance being offered as inclusive as possible.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says House leaders from all parties are now debating the best way to bring Parliament back to debate these emergency measures and said she hopes this will happen as soon as possible.

The hope is this will encourage businesses to hire students to allow them to get the work experience they need and earn incomes during the downturn, Trudeau said.

"Job numbers will come out tomorrow", Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.

The government has also announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program.

The federal government will extend the timeframe for job placement to the winter to accommodate the fact many jobs won't be able to begin until later in the year.

"The feds have been hoping that many employers would be using this to hire them back - and that certainly could be true in many cases - but I don't think that would be widespread".

Trudeau said: "Small businesses and community organizations are the backbone of our economy, and a critical lifeline for communities across this country".

"In this economic climate, it's hard for people of all ages to find work, but young people are especially vulnerable". "They are due for a little bit of good news".

He's confident MappedIn will survive, since they're already near breakeven partly from staff reductions, but he feels if the government is looking to help businesses get back on their feet, the subsidy could be less restrictive.

In previous years, private and public sector employers were only eligible to receive a wage subsidy of up to 50 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum wage.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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