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Prime minister Justin Trudeau this week extended the unprecedented package of economic stimulus measures to include businesses of all sizes, a critical component of a package of reforms designed to help businesses keep workers employed.
"As is the case with many sectors, mining has been heavily impacted by COVID-19, with multiple companies reducing or suspending operations at mines, smelters and refineries across Canada, resulting in tens of thousands of layoffs of direct and indirect employees," said Mining Association of Canada CEO Pierre Gratton.
"The wage subsidy will help prevent further layoffs, thus minimising both the scale and extent of disruption to both businesses, employees and contractors, and better position the mining sector to resume operations and support the many thousands of individuals who depend on it for employment."
Under the federal government's plan, it will subsidise up to 75% of an employee's salary up to C$58,700 temporarily to prevent layoffs and stem the disruption to both businesses and employees resulting from such actions.
Backdated to March 15, businesses and non-profit organisations seeing a drop of at least 30% in revenue due to COVID-19 will be eligible for the programme.
The MAC said it had engaged and was looking forward to review further specifics of the programme, but welcomed the intent, and the government's recognition that there was a benefit to reducing the extent of business and worker disruption in a period of amplified uncertainty.
"MAC's members have issued statements and updates on a near-constant basis focused on company-specific responses to COVID-19. Many have reduced their workforces and put, often voluntarily, mines on care and maintenance, a process that ensures sites are being managed effectively and are in safe and stable condition when production has ceased. The support being offered through this new programme will enable mining companies to retain their workforces in the face of significant economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Gratton.
The federal government's aid package first unveiled a week ago includes $52 billion in direct financial support for individuals and businesses and $55 billion in tax deferrals.